Over the past couple of decades, remittances—loosely defined as the money migrants earn working abroad and then send back to their country of origin—have emerged as the largest source of external financing in many developing countries. Consequently, they have been creating a buzz in the development industry as a new tool in helping alleviate poverty. Not surprisingly, therefore, the majority of the remittance literature focuses on their impact on poverty and development, while only giving a cursory view as to how remittances impact the family unit. Using a collective case study involving four Ecuadorian remittance receiving families, this capstone will explore the social ramifications behind remittances. Particularly, I will examine how remittances affect the family dynamics of Ecuadorian remittance receiving families. How does, for example, having money coming from abroad influences the recipients and their children’s attitudes towards work? How is the relationship between the recipients and their spouses living abroad affected? What are the consequences of children growing up without a parent, and the overall impact on the family unit? While the conclusions vary within each family, some common themes that run through the participants’ stories are the anxiety of separation and loss, the unexpected delays of reuniting, and the economic benefits that remittances can provide. The answers to these questions are of paramount importance to anyone who is considering leaving their family behind in search of work. Families who understand both the short-term and long-term implications of social remittances will be able to more accurately predict the consequences and therefore will be better equipped to make that decision.


Economics | International Economics | Labor Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences