Expat remittances – An aid to better living in Lebanon

Remittances of money from investments or bank deposits sent back by Lebanese expats to their families represent a vital component of the Lebanese economy and an important part of its financial resources. A study published recently by Chogig Kasparian, professor at St. Joseph University, Beirut, has shed new light on the subject, with the statistical data it contains being immediately put to use.

Chogig Kasparian, professeur à l’université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth,  a coordonné une étude financée par le Femise réalisée dans le cadre de l’Observatoire universitaires de la réalité socio-économique. (Photo N.B.C)

Chogig Kasparian, a professor at Saint Joseph University in Beirut, coordinated a study funded by FEMISE conducted as part of the the Observatoire Universitaire de la Réalité Socio-Economique (OURSE). (Photo N.B.C)

Sixty percent of Lebanese expats regularly send money to their families at home. Who are these people? What is the money used for? “The money is usually put towards daily expenses, education and health needs. Investments in enterprise creation remain marginal” explains Chogig Kasparian. The professor at St. Joseph University in Beirut was the coordinator of a study entitled “The impact of expatriates’ remittances on the households’ standard of living: comparative study of Lebanon, Morocco and Algeria”, financed by the FEMISE and carried out under the auspices of the Observatoire Universitaire de la Réalité Socio-Economique (OURSE). (To view the study, click here)The economist adds, “There is a lack of statistical data on this issue and this study should give help the Lebanese government in setting out its social policy. Also, representatives from the International Monetary Fund have been to Lebanon to work on the new data.”
A report, based on the study and covering the impact on living conditions in Lebanon, was published in 2014.“Lebanese immigration has generally been confined to doctors, engineers and computer specialists. Although France has traditionally accepted a large number of Lebanese, due to its cultural ties, professionals today are now looking towards the Gulf States. Women, who normally would have followed their husbands, are now independent. Thus, today, we see Lebanese women leaving to work in Dubai of their own accord,” points out Kasparian, who surveyed 2000 households, 1000 of whom received remittances from abroad and 1000 who didn’t.

Leading MENA country in terms of remittances

Lebanon is the country in the MENA region that receives the most in overseas remittances, 22.4% of its GDP in 2009, placing it ahead of Morocco and Algeria.

The study, which also covers a small number of rural and semi-rural towns, highlights the income gap between those households receiving money from overseas (-38.4%) and the rest.Lebanon is the country in the MENA region that receives the most in overseas remittances, 22.4% of its GDP in 2009, placing it ahead of Morocco and Algeria. The study should allow comparisons to be made with similar data already available for the latter two countries.
The aim here is to highlight peculiarities or similarities in the impact of remittances on households’ standard of living.
Interview with NBC at the annual conference of the FEMISE (13-14 February, 2016, Athens, Greece). To learn more about the conference click here.

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