From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

Many immigrants send small amounts of money, called remittances, home to friends and family. But those small amounts of money together add up to a lot. There are about 200 million international migrants. In 2013, they sent $400 billion back to their home countries. That is much more than official aid to many countries.

For some nations, it is the biggest provider of foreign exchange. Jean Claude Kazadi and his wife Myriam came to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They quickly began sending money home after they arrived. Mr. Kazadi is a doctor who works on HIV/AIDS for Catholic Relief Services in Maryland. He knows the $400 he sends to his parents every month is important.

Economist Adolfo Barajas of the International Monetary Fund has studied remittances for 10 years. He says remittance amounts increased by seven times from 1990 to 2010. Mr. Barajas says a huge migration has driven this flow of money to countries around the world. Economists have said that remittances help families who receive them by increasing their income. But there is a concern that the income into a national economy will cause its money to increase in value.

In turn, a country’s exports can become more costly and less competitive. Dilip Ratha is a remittance expert with the World Bank. He says remittances help reduce poverty and provide investment money for business, education and health. Remittances can provide money to countries in conflict when private investors leave. For VOA Learning English, I’m Carolyn Presutti.