The Role of Remittances in Risk Management and Resilience in Tuvalu: Evidence and Potential Policy Responses

  • Sophia KaganEmail author
Part of the Global Migration Issues book series (IOMS, volume 6)


Remittances are often perceived as having multiple roles in strengthening resilience to environmental shock. They may be a form of social protection in the wake of a natural disaster, when the funds received can be used to provide basic necessities, rebuild shelter and livelihoods. Remittances are also thought to be used to strengthen ex-ante preparedness in disaster-prone regions, or invested into other resilience strategies to support the well-being of the household or community in question. This chapter analyses the empirical evidence of this conceptual relationship, concluding that while the link between remittances and coping strategies after a disaster has empirical backing, the evidence of remittances improving ex-ante risk management is sparse, and likely to be much more nuanced. Tuvalu, a country firmly dependent on remittances and at the same time, extremely environmentally vulnerable, provides a case study on the relationship between risk management and remittances and the chapter concludes with policy recommendations that can assist to strengthen resilience through remittances.


Labor migration Remittances Pacific 


  1. Asian Development Bank. (2007). Tuvalu 2006 Economic Report, from plan to action. Available at: Accessed 20 Aug 2016.
  2. Banerjee, S., Gerlitz, J. Y., & Hoermann, B. (2011). Labour migration as a response strategy to water hazards in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas. Kathmandu: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.Google Scholar
  3. Boland, S., & Dollery, B. (2007, March). The economic significance of migration and remittances in Tuvalu. Pacific Economic Bulletin, 22(1). Asia Pacific Press.Google Scholar
  4. Borovnik, M. (2006). Working overseas: Seafarers’ remittances and their distribution in Kiribati. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 47(1), 151–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, R., Connell, J., & Jimenez-Soto, E. (2014). Migrants’ remittances, poverty and social protection in the South Pacific: Fiji and Tonga. Population, Space and Place, 20(5), 434–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Campbell, J. (2010). Climate change and population movement in pacific island countries. In B. Burson (Ed.), Climate change and migration: South Pacific perspectives. Wellington: Institute of Policy Studies.Google Scholar
  7. Chambers, K., & Chambers, A. (2001). Unity of heart, culture and change in a Polynesian Atoll Society. Prospect Heights: Waveland Press.Google Scholar
  8. Clarke, G., & Wallsten, S., (2003, January). Do remittances act like insurance? Evidence from a natural disaster in Jamaica. World Bank Development Research Group.Google Scholar
  9. Connell, J., & Brown, R. (2005). Remittances in the pacific: An overview. Asia Development Bank, Pacific Studies Series.Google Scholar
  10. Craven, L. K. (2015). Migration-affected change and vulnerability in rural Vanuatu. Asia Pacific Viewpoint. doi: 10.1111/apv.12066.Google Scholar
  11. Curtain, R., & Powell, R. (2011). Background analysis and recommendations on designing demand-based technical and vocational educational and training frameworks for the pacific. ADB Technical Assistance, 12, 67–77.Google Scholar
  12. De Haas, H. (2012). The migration and development pendulum: A critical view on research and policy. International Migration, 50(3), 8–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deshingakar, P., & Aheeya, M. (2006). Remittances in crisis: Sri Lanka after the tsunami. Overseas Development Institute Humanitarian Policy Group Background Paper (August 2006).Google Scholar
  14. Ehrlich, I., & Becker, G. (1972). Market insurance, self-insurance, and self-protection. Journal of Political Economy, 80(4), 623–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Funkhouser, E. (1995). Remittances from international migration: A comparison of El Salvador and Nicaragua. Review of Economics and Statistics, 77(1), 137–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gaillard, J. C. (2010). Vulnerability, capacity and resilience: Perspectives for climate change and development policy. Journal of International Development, 22, 218–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hay, D., & Howes, S. (2012). Australia’s pacific seasonal worker pilot scheme: Why has take‐up been so low? (Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper 17). Canberra: Crawford School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University. Accessed 29 Apr 2015.Google Scholar
  18. International Organization for Migration. (2007). Migration, development and natural disasters: Insights from the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Google Scholar
  19. Le De, L., Gaillard, J. C., & Smith, M. (2015). Remittances in the face of disasters: A case study of rural Samoa. Environement, Development and Sustainability, 17, 653.Google Scholar
  20. Levitt, P. (2001). The transnational villagers. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Levitt, P., & Lamba-Nives, D. (2011). Social remittances revisited. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lucas, R., & Stark, O. (1985). Motivations to remit: Evidence from Botswana. The Journal of Political Economic, 93(5), 901.Google Scholar
  23. McLellan, N. (2008). Workers for all seasons? Issues from New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) program. Hawthorn: Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology. Accessed 20 Aug 2016.
  24. McCubbin, S., Smit, B., & Pearce, T. (2015). Where does climate fit? Vulnerability to climate change in the context of multiple stressors in Funafuti, Tuvalu. Global Environmental Change, 37(1), 43–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Miller, D., & Paulson, A. (1999). Informal insurance and moral hazard: Gambling and remittances in Thailand. Evanston: Mimeo, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University.Google Scholar
  26. Mohapatra, S., Joseph, S., & Ratha, D. (2012). Remittances and natural disasters: Ex-post response and contribution to ex-ante preparedness. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 14(3), 365–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. PACNEWS. (2015, May 11). Relocation to bigger countries is not an option, says Prime Minister Sopoaga. PACNEWS, Accessed 15 Aug 2015.
  28. Scheffran, J., et al. (2012). Migration as a contribution to resilience and innovation in climate adaptation: Social networks and co-development in Northwest Africa. Applied Geography, 33, 119–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Simati, A. (2009). The effect of migration on development in Tuvalu: A case study of Tuvaluan migrants and their families. Thesis for Master of Philosophy in development studies. Massey University. New Zealand.Google Scholar
  30. Simati, A., & Gibson, J. (2001). Do remittances decay? Evidence from Tuvaluan migrants in New Zealand. Pacific Economic Bulletin, 16(1), 55.Google Scholar
  31. Simati, A. M., & Gibson, J. (2012). Do remittances decay? Evidence from Tuvaluan migrants in New Zealand. Accessed 15 Apr 2015.
  32. Smith, R., & McNamara, K. (2015). Future migrations from Tuvalu and Kiribati: Exploring government, civil society and donor perceptions. Climate and Development, 7(1), 47–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Suleri, A. Q., & Savage, K. (2006). Remittances in crises: A case study from Pakistan (An Humanitarian Policy Group background paper). London: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  34. Tuvalu Government. (2006). Household income and expenditure survey (2004/2005).Google Scholar
  35. Tuvalu Government. (2011). National climate change policy 2012–2020.Google Scholar
  36. Tuvalu Government. (2012). Population & housing census, preliminary analytical report. Government of Tuvalu.Google Scholar
  37. Tuvalu Government. (2015). National Labor Migration Policy. Available at Accessed 20 Aug 2016.
  38. Tuvalu Red Cross. (2012). TeKavatoetoe community report. Tuvalu Red Cross.Google Scholar
  39. World Bank. (2005). Global economic prospects 2006: Economic implications of remittances and migration. Washington, DC: World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. World Bank. (2014a). World Development Report 2014: Risk and opportunity. Available at Accessed 10 Aug 2015.
  41. World Bank. (2014b). Hardship and vulnerability in the Pacific Island countries: A regional companion to the world development report 2014.Google Scholar
  42. World Bank. (2015). Optimizing development benefits from international labour migration in Tuvalu (not publicly released).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technical Officer, International Labour OrganizationSuvaFiji

Personalised recommendations