Historical Basis of Remittances:
By: Preethi Singh 😀
Throughout the 1900s, many Caribbean immigrants were forced to move to the United States, in order to escape oppressive governments found back home in their native countries. Many of these immigrants went to the port cities, mainly New York City. Remittances can have both a positive and negative impact on the native countries. On a positive note, Caribbean nations receive foreign currency and have more of a balance of international accounts. On a negative note, the reduction in the labor force of the native country is a detrimental effect that impedes the independence of these Caribbean nations. Caribbean immigrants are dependent on these transnational ties to their home countries for survival. Many of these immigrants worked hard laborious jobs for meager wages. A large amount of these wages would then be sent to the families in the native country, leaving only enough money for the migrant to survive off of. These migrants would receive support from the native countries, by receiving letters and food,etc.
Divisions in Labor of the Caribbean Migrants in NY
Many of the Caribbean immigrants to the cities had, to an extent, some degree of educational attainment. According to the Migration Policy Institute, of the black immigrants born in the Caribbean, 94% did not attend beyond a 4-year college, nor received a professional degree. This left many of the more lower class and laborious jobs for the Caribbean immigrants to take up with men working mainly in the construction, manufacturing, and finance fields. Women tended to work in the domestic, retail, and agricultural fields. Within Caribbean families in NY, women handled the affairs of the household. They would allot the amount of money that would be divided into bills, businesses, education, and remittances. Before, when Caribbean immigrants came alone, they were only responsible for sending most of their money back home to their family. However, as Caribbean families started to form in NYC, these families had more priorities to worry about, such as renting apartments and investing in small businesses.
How and What Types of Remittances that are Sent:
Caribbean families have found numerous ways to send money back home to their families in the native countries. Remittances are defined as payments sent by foreign-born workers back to their home country. Back in the 1900s, Caribbean migrants would send most of their paycheck through wiring services found throughout the city. Now, there is an abundance of many wiring services that also send barrels, which is another form of sending things back to the native country. Caribbean immigrants would buy a large barrel that they then fill up with anything from food to clothes to electronics,etc. When walking around Flatbush, Brooklyn, I noticed many MoneyGram and other common wiring services, such as Ria, in the area. In an interview conducted by Revital Schechter and I, DeShaun McCorkle, who was the interviewee, worked in the customer service field for a branch of Ria Money Transferring Service found in Brooklyn. When asked how often Caribbean families come to their center to send remittances back to their native countries, Mr. McCorkle stated that the center would see the same families often, around every week. They would send a couple hundred to the families back home.
Note: To learn more about barrels being sent to the Caribbean nations, click on this link:
The True Reality about Remittance Sending Patterns:
Caribbean immigrants’ main purpose when they first started migrating to the United States of America was to work laborious jobs in order to earn money and then to send most of their wages back to their family in the native country. Eventually, these immigrants started to form families as they married one another and established Caribbean communities in locations such as Flatbush, Brooklyn. These Caribbean families also brought more of their families from the native country to live with them in New York City. The Migration Policy Institute shows that the Caribbean immigrant population grew from a mere 200,000 in 1960 to a shocking 3.5 million immigrants in 2009 within the United States of America, indicating that the Caribbean immigrant population was skyrocketing as more Caribbean’s entered the states through the help of other Caribbean immigrants currently residing in the states.
People would predict that the amount of remittances sent back to the native country should have increased because there are more immigrants now earning an income in the states. Truly, the large numbers of Caribbean immigrants has led to an increased amount of total remittances sent to the native countries of the West Indian Nations. The amount of remittances sent to the Caribbean nations in 1995 raised by 32% in 2001. Many people believe that each individual Caribbean family sends more money to their native countries than they did when they first came to the states. This misconception forms when people see that Caribbean family sizes are increasing and thus, there are more family members earning money to send back to the Caribbean nations. Quite the contrary, as stated by the MPI National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, the median annual earnings for black Caribbean immigrants in 2005 were around $30,000. This number has risen to the annual household income of $37,000 as observed in 2011, thus showing that the Caribbean immigrant annual income is increasing but at an extremely slow rate. This rate is not enough for the Caribbean families to keep up with the pace of inflation in the United States of America.
When these Caribbean immigrants lived alone, their main priorities were paying the rent and food and sending the rest of the money back to their native country. However, as Caribbean families established themselves in New York City, these families had other priorities they had to take care of. These priorities would include the following: education, rent/housing, savings, health services, and then remittances. Caribbean migrants are sending between 11% to 13% less money back to their native countries now. The Migration Policy Institute states that the average Caribbean household dropped from sending on average $1,260 to $950 each year. In the same article, Winkendy Augustin, a Haitian immigrant, cut the $75 he sent to his mom regularly in Haiti to $50 since the year 2007, thus showing the trend that as costs and other priorities raise in New York City, each Caribbean household, on average, is sending less money back to the West Indian nations.
It is essential to understand that the increase in the total amount of remittances received in the West Indian nations by all the Caribbean natives is only due to the fact that there is a higher Caribbean immigrant population in the United States of America than before, thus allowing more Caribbean immigrants to contribute to the sending of remittances back to the West Indian nations.
Divisions of the Annual Income For Expenditures
When Caribbean immigrants first migrated to United States of America in the 1900s, their main expenditures consisted of food and rent, with the rest of the money being sent back to the native country. However, many of these Caribbean immigrants established families with one another to help secure their stability in the U.S. and this led to other priorities for these Caribbean households. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that black households, which include African and Caribbean immigrants, spend around 37.4% of their annual income on housing and investments. Many Caribbean families want to buy a house to help secure money in the form of rent and for a place for their children to live in to help them with social mobility. After analyzing some Caribbean based newspapers that I collected from Flatbush, Brooklyn, it is clear that the amount of investment plans and loan ads found throughout the newspaper shows that this is a priority that now appeals to the current Caribbean migrant population in New York City.
Another new priority for Caribbean immigrants in New York City is the cost of food, which is 16.1% of their annual income. While their household size increased over the years but their annual income remained nearly the same, the Caribbean households had to pay for more food to feed their family. Even newer priorities include spending money for personal insurance and pensions, which take up around 10.2% of their annual income. These more modern services were not available to Caribbean immigrants back in the 1900s, thus leading to more annual household expenditures that take away from the amount of money that can be sent as remittances to the native countries. Healthcare, another modern priority, takes up 5% of their annual income; a new expenditure that was once not there when Caribbean immigrants first came to the United States of America. Many newspapers contain ads about getting Medicaid and Medicare for Caribbean migrants, showing that healthcare is a growing concern and expenditure for Caribbean immigrants.
–By Preethi Singh
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