Migration and Characteristics of Remittance Senders in South Africa



Since 2000, South Africa has experienced unprecedented migration from Zimbabwe. Surveys have estimated that by the end of 2007, between 1 million and 2 million Zimbabweans had migrated to South Africa as a result of a political and economic crisis that has been bedevilling their country. These migrants are supporting the livelihoods of relatives left at home through remittances. The nature of the remittance flows is not well documented, and the characteristics of the remittance senders and recipients are even less well understood. In this paper, I attempt to fill this research gap by focusing on the remittance behaviour of the senders. Using data from a survey of Zimbabwean migrants living in Johannesburg in South Africa, in this paper I examine the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the remittance senders. Pertinent findings are that remittance behaviour is seen to be positively correlated with age, the number of dependents supported in the home country, income level and the return migration decision. Furthermore, males and married persons make up a larger proportion of the remitters than females and single persons. There are more remitters among migrants with basic education than among those with tertiary education. I have found remittance behaviour to be independent of legal status and length of stay in the host country. The independence with regard to length of stay raises questions about the validity of the remittance decay hypothesis.