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Remittances from Finland grow tenfold

Migrant workers in Finland are sending nearly ten times more money back home than 20 years ago, the Bank of Finland says.

Taiwanilainen postivirkailija käsittelee kiinalaisia juaneita.
File photo of a postal worker in Taiwan handling cash. Image: EPA/DAVID CHANG

Remittance flows from Finland are ten times higher now than in the year 2000, according to the Bank of Finland.

Totalling nearly 800 million euros, money sent by migrants in Finland to support their families back home is three times bigger than Finland's overseas aid.

Twenty-eight year-old Vantaa resident Russel Bercasio sends over half of the salary she earns as a personal aide to the Philippines.

She said the money is a lifeline for her family.

"I have eight siblings and I am the only one who can help support them financially," she explained.

Officially recorded remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries reached 445 billion euros last year, according to the World Bank. The amount exceeded not only global development aid, but also foreign direct investment.

Kristiina Karjanlahti, an advisor at the Bank of Finland, said remittances from Finland have grown nearly tenfold since the year 2000, rising to 790 million euros in 2019.

The pandemic has not slowed remittance flows, which only dropped 1.6 percent last year from 2019, according to the World Bank. Economists now expect remittances to low- and middle- income countries to increase.

Families back home will continue to need money after the pandemic, and fallout from the crisis could mean many will require more help in the coming years, according to Karjanlahti.

Bercasio said she has continued sending her family money during the pandemic.

"This month I’ve made four transfers," she said, adding that the transfer service she uses only deducts a few euros.

But globally the average fee for moving money is around 6.5 percent of the amount sent.

Bercasio, who has a vocational business degree, said she wants to find work as a bookkeeper. This would mean a higher salary and the possibility to send more money home.

"The most important thing is that I have an income and can help my family."

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