Remittances and Protest in Dictatorships

Remittances – money sent back home by migrant workers – are the second largest source of international financial flows in developing countries. As with other sources of international financing, such as foreign direct investment and foreign aid, worker remittances shape politics in recipient countries. We examine the political consequences of remittances by exploring how they influence anti-government protest behaviour in non-democratic recipient countries. While recent research argues that remittances have a pernicious effect on politics by contributing to authoritarian stability, we argue the opposite: remittances increase political protest in non-democracies by augmenting the resources available to potential political opponents. Using cross-national data on a latent measure of anti-government political protest, we show that remittances increase protest. To explore the causal pathway linking remittances to protest, we turn to individual-level data from eight non-democracies in Africa to show that remittance receipt increases protest in opposition regions but not in regime-stronghold regions.

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