SOAS University of London

SOAS academics awarded major Covid-19 funding grant

27 October 2020

Dr Anna Lindley and Professor Laura Hammond of the Department of Development Studies have been awarded substantial funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to investigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on migrant remittance flows and wellbeing. 

The project, Migrant Remittances and Covid-19: Practices of Care during Crisis, is a joint investigation with Professor Kavita Datta (Queen Mary University of London) and Dr Elaine Chase (University College London Institute of Education).

Dr Anna Lindley, Senior Lecturer in Development studies said: 

"We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with colleagues at QMUL and UCL learning about the experiences of key migrant communities and the UK during the pandemic and the implications for their remittance sending practices. The project will tackle important questions around migrant well-being and transnational family care and digitisation of financial services in the context of Covid-19 and enable us to formulate recommendations to policy-makers about how to support lives and livelihoods."

Exploring the wider impact of the pandemic

According to the World Bank, Covid-19 will wipe out US$100 billion in remittance flows, constituting the sharpest contraction since tracking began in 1980. Globally recognized as providing vital safety nets for recipient households, this decline, driven by reduced capacities among sending communities, is coinciding with escalating need as the pandemic takes hold in many receiving communities.

The UK is a significant originator of remittance flows and the UK government response has emphasised the importance of joining with global efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in remittances in the context of the unprecedented challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. But this raises important significant questions about the extent to which and how policy is able to support the resilience of remittances.

Addressing gaps in knowledge

Focusing on Brazilian, Indian and Somali migrants living in London, Glasgow and Cardiff, the project will track shifts in the nature, patterns and direction of remittance sending in response to Covid-19. Situating remittances as practices of care, it will redress a bias in migration studies by exploring the implications of disrupted remittance flows on migrant, as opposed to recipient, wellbeing.

The project will investigate how migrants’ access to remittance services has been affected by Covid-19, and the impacts of increased digitisation of financial services, including gendered and generational differences in levels of access.

The UK-wide focus will highlight regional similarities and differences, with relevance for national mitigation measures.

Real-world outcomes

The project will provide concrete policy recommendations for policy makers, informing efforts to support migrant lives and livelihoods in light of the impact of the pandemic. It will also provide insights into migrant remittance practices during the pandemic as well as how best to sustain remittance flows post-Covid-19.

The project will commence in autumn 2020 for a duration of 18 months.