Gender, remittances and asset accumulation in Ecuador and Ghana

The central question motivating this study is whether processes of migration can contribute to women’s economic autonomy by facilitating their acquisition of physical and financial assets, either as migrants or as managers of remittances sent to their households.

Drawing on representative national-level household asset surveys for Ecuador and Ghana, the authors find that 24 per cent of all households with migrants in Ecuador and 17 per cent in Ghana have acquired at least one asset through the use of remittances, predominantly international remittances. In Ecuador, where international migration is gender balanced, male and female international migrants are equally likely to send remittances to their households of origin; in Ghana, men are much more likely to be international migrants than women and predominate among the remitters.

Remittances have contributed towards strengthening women’s ownership of assets (especially consumer durables) in both countries. In Ghana, most businesses acquired with remittances are owned by women, as are the majority of the residences so acquired. In Ecuador, women managers have benefited through the build-up of their savings and as joint owners of the homes built with remittances; also, return female migrants are more likely than their male counterparts to have acquired a home through their use of savings earned abroad.

Nonetheless, a minority of migrant women and female remittance recipients are able to acquire assets. Enhancing the capacity of migrants to channel their foreign savings towards asset accumulation will require policy interventions at various levels, including a focus on their conditions of employment in destination countries (see Sustainable Development Goal, recommended SDG 8.8); reducing the cost of remittance transfers (recommended SDG 10.c); and specific policies to facilitate the acquisition of assets in the home country (recommended SDGs 1.4 and 5.a).

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UN Women office publishing: UN Women Headquarters
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