Vital though the flow of remittances may be, it cannot, on its own, lift entire nations out of poverty. Those who study the impact of remittances argue that the money allows poor countries to put off basic decisions of economic management, like reforming their tax-collection systems and building decent schools.
Some migrants are now using their economic clout to perform work usually done by big aid organizations. Mali (Africa) Ambadedi's workers' association in Paris, for example, funds some village projects with its members' own earnings. But the association also solicits help from the French government and the European Union.
"We have a project under way to purify the village water supply," says Ibrahim Diabira, 55, who works in Paris as a building cleaner and helps run the village association in the French capital.
Elsewhere, host nations have created temporary legal work programs, in which migrants earn legal wages with benefits, before returning home. That way, migrants retain close links to their countries while developing skills abroad.
When they go back, they will take augmented skills, savings and networks.
[Excerpted from a TIME magazine article, by Vivenne Walt]