A View from the Inside: Grounding the Remittance-Development Link

Daniela N. Villacrés

Idioma original:

Resumen

Abstract

Research on the remittance-development link and policies for leveraging remittances for development have led to polarization and have obscured vital nuances in the relationship. One school of thought has adopted an overly optimistic view, placing an exaggerated emphasis on maximizing remittances as viable development tools. The other has assumed an overly pessimistic position, dismissing remittances as economic crutches and ephemeral solutions to poverty. Researchers have typically utilized quantitative methods that provide detached analyses. Against that backdrop, this article uses evidence from one Salvadoran municipality to provide an in-depth view of the remittance-development link at the local level, and it proposes four scenarios in which it manifests. Findings counter overly simplistic and polarized depictions in the literature and expose how those who live the remittance-development link perceive and experience it first hand in their households and communities. This article draws conclusions about the development potential of family versus collective remittances, as well as the importance of a balanced understanding of remittance-driven development that must be considered when furthering research and formulating policy.

Resumen

La investigación y las políticas en torno al vínculo entre remesas y desarrollo han polarizado esta relación y, por ende, oscurecido importantes matices. Una corriente de opinión ha adoptado una posición optimista que destaca el potencial de las remesas como herramientas viables para el desarrollo. La otra, sin embargo, ha asumido una posición demasiado pesimista que rechaza las remesas por considerarlas un paliativo temporal a la pobreza y un impedimento para el desarrollo económico y social a largo plazo. Este artículo utiliza evidencia obtenida a través de estudios etnográficos y entrevistas en una municipalidad de El Salvador. Estos hallazgos contrarrestan las representaciones polarizadas y nos ofrecen un panorama detallado de los vínculos entre remesas y desarrollo local desde el punto de vista de quienes viven esta realidad en sus hogares y comunidades. Las conclusiones destacan el potencial de las remesas familiares versus las remesas colectivas en el contexto del desarrollo local, así como la importancia de contar con un entendimiento equilibrado al realizar investigaciones y formular políticas en esta materia.

Keywords: local development; remittances; hometown associations; remittance- development link; El Salvador


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Date of receipt: October 16, 2008.

Date of acceptance: March 19, 2009.



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