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Remittances the UK vs. the rest of Europe

The current economic climate in Europe is in flux with profound changes such as Brexit. Remittance flows from the UK are being affected by an environment of uncertainty. This situation warrants a look at the other major European economies and draw comparisons. How do remittances from these nations compare with those from the UK? Here is a quick overview.

Hard facts

The largest economies in Europe are Germany, The UK, France, Italy, and Spain, in that order. Germany has a GDP of $4.44 trillion. The UK is placed second at $3.13 trillion, and Spain stands at $2.02 trillion as annual GDP. The annual worldwide remittance flows from these countries compare as follows:

Germany:        $22.1 billion

UK:                 $26.8 billion

France:                        $13.5 billion

Italy:                $8.0 billion

Spain:              $7.2 billion

The variation does not seem large when compared as a percentage of GDP. However, interesting facts start to emerge as we look closer.

A diverse agglomeration

A glance at the ethnic composition of these countries reveals a high degree of homogeneity.

Germany:        76.4% Germans

UK:                 87.1% White

France:                        93.0% French-born

Italy:                91.5% Italians

Spain:              89.67% Spaniards

Reasons for the ethnic uniformity of four of these are almost obvious. However, something about this statistic for the UK does not seem to fit. Note that prevalent ethnic composition of the UK indicates ‘White’, and not UK-born or British. The UK’s census uses ‘White’ as a generic classification, to which any nationality can identify. Therefore ‘White’ here includes all other Europeans and even African whites. To accurately represent the ethnic composition of the UK’s population we need a different statistic. This is resolved by another question on the UK’s national census, which is about national identity. When asked about their national identity, only 40% of respondents in the UK classified themselves as British. In reality the UK is a highly diverse mix of nationalities. There is a notably larger proportion of foreign-born residents in the UK than in any of the other four nations in our comparison. This diversity invariably manifests in all of UK’s polls, including referendums!

Colonial heritage

One reason for the ethnic diversity in present day UK is the country’s colonial heritage. Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries Great Britain colonized more than 70 territories including much of what is now India, Canada and Australia. The vast legacy of the UK’s historic cultural influence has endured to the present day. As of 2017 the UK’s top two remittance recipient countries were India and Nigeria, which are on different continents. Fast and reliable MTOs such as Ria Money Transfer UK are the favorite remittance channels for sending money to both these countries. India and Nigeria collectively receive nearly $8 million annually from the UK. Nearly ten other countries have pegged their currencies to the GBP and/or display the Queen’s portrait on their bank notes. The prevailing financial setup is therefore a testament to the rich multicultural British heritage.

United by language

In terms of native speakers English is the third most popular language in the world, after Mandarin and Spanish. However, Mandarin speakers are concentrated primarily in Asia, and Hispanophones in the Americas. The geographic spread of English far exceeds that of any other language. Moreover English has become the preferred language for international commerce due to multiple reasons. Prime among these is the prevalence of English as the language of computing. The sum of English users would far outnumber users of any other language when non-native speakers are included. These demographics have made it possible for immigrants from throughout the developing world to seek employment in the UK. Migration to other big EU economies has been comparatively slower because there are fewer speakers of German, Italian and French in developing nations. Spain is an exception because there exists a plentitude of Hispanophones in the developing world. Smaller remittance outflows from Spain are owed to the comparative size of the country’s economy.

Recent changes such as Brexit are making the UK less attractive for foreign migrants. During the next few years we may well see less migration to the UK and more to the EU.

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