Motivations to remit: evidence from Botswana.

Lucas RE; Stark O
JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY. 1985 Oct; 93(5):901-18.

In this article a theory of motivations to send remittances is described and tested with data from Botswana. Altruism is one of the motivations tested and found to be an insufficient explanation for remittances among migrants in Botswana. A refinement of the model stipulates a modified altruism or "enlightened self-interest." In this model the relationship between the migrant and family is tempered by an implicit understanding of mutual benefit. The household strategy may be to encourage some members to migrate as a means of spreading risk and sharing gains. The household strategy is similar to an insurance policy, where migration is to places where market potential is high. The risks incurred might be high. The example is given of migration during a drought in Botswana. Migrant remittances were greater in households with more cattle or households with more to lose. Drought alone was not statistically related to remittances. Increases in remittances were related to increased levels of education. It is suggested that repayment was the motive for parents' investment in migrants' education. Migrants gains are identified as the potential for an inheritance, the security of channeling investments through a trusted family member, and security in having a home to return to. It is pointed out that the altruism and family remittances from urban migration were strategies that bridged the simple dynamic of either urban development or rural development impacting on family welfare. It is suggested that household models of economy adopt some measure to express the relationship of household wealth to remittances from urban migrants.

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