Brief History of Remittances and Immigration in the Dominican Republic


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Dominican father and sons at fruit market

As the original melting pot of the New World, the Dominican Republic has been housing and promoting immigration since 1492.

The very fabric of Dominican culture, from its food to its music, has been influenced by its Spanish, African and indigenous heritage, enhanced with the waves of European and Middle Eastern immigration starting in the 18th century.

Today, Dominicans joke that “everyone has an uncle in New York,” but there’s evidence to suggest this generalization might not be far from the truth given the tendency of Dominicans to move abroad to support their families.

Dominican Republic’s relationship with immigration

For the past decade, the Dominican Republic has ranked among the fastest-growing emigrant populations in the region with a registered 21% increase in number of expats, according to the Pew Research Center.

And what’s more, this ranking only takes into consideration countries that already had emigrant populations of at least 100,000 by 2010.

Around this time, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had estimated 13% of Dominicans were already living abroad, totaling some 716,586 migrants aged 15 or above.

With 67% of Latin American migrants winding up in the United States, it’s no surprise that 88% of Dominican expats have migrated stateside.

The impact of remittances in the Dominican Republic

In 2018, the Dominican Republic received USD$6.4 billion in remittances, most of which originated from the United States (77,4%) and Spain (10,6%).

Thanks to this inflow, the Dominican Republic ranks second top remittance receiving country in Central America and the Antilles, and the impact shows.

Remittances make up 8.14% of the country’s GDP, which has helped the nation’s economy grow, along with tourism and foreign investment, by an average of 5% in 2018.

The sturdy financial growth and flow of foreign currency also resulted in unforeseen exchange rate stability, with the Dominican Peso closing last year at RD$49.78 for a US dollar instead of the predicted RD$51.05.

Also, we discussed recently how children in the Dominican Republic aged 6 to 17 were more likely to attend school if they came from remittance-receiving households.

Anywhere you turn, the impact of remittances in the Dominican Republic is both positive and robust.

So, it is safe to say that Dominicans are making the most of having an uncle in New York.


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