Migration's impact on El Salvador

An article on the Migration Information Source web site takes at in depth look at the statistics concerning emigration from El Salvador and remittances sent home. One impact is globalization:
In fact, it can be easily argued that migration is El Salvador's principal gateway to globalization. And this is due not only to the volume of remittances but also to a myriad of other economic activities that have increased because of migration.

According to data from the US Federal Communications Commission, telephone calls between the United States and El Salvador rose 570 percent from 99.9 million minutes in 1992 to 669 million minutes in 2002 as families made use of increased access to land lines as well as cell phone expansion to keep in touch.

Information from the US Bureau of Transport Statistics shows that air traffic between El Salvador and the United States increased exponentially from 123,846 passengers in 1990 to more than 1.3 million in 2004. The principal cities of destination (Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Houston, New York, and San Francisco) coincide with the largest concentrations of Salvadorans in the United States.

Linked to air traffic is ethnic tourism. Salvadorans who live outside the country and come to visit stay longer and spend more per day than tourists of other nationalities. According to the Ministry of Tourism, on average, Salvadoran visitors stay 19 days and spend $97 per day while other tourists stay only eight days and spend $87 per day.

No wonder, then, that the immigration debate in the US is followed so closely in El Salvador.


El-Visitador said…
Tim, thanks for finding.

I haven't had a chance to look at all the data, but some pretty significant errors are instantly apparent:

"telephone calls between the United States and El Salvador rose 570 percent from 99.9 million minutes in 1992 to 669 million minutes in 2002 as families..."

Actually, 90% of the volume traffic growth for the period cited is from 1998 and onward... reflecting the benefits of privatization in 1998 rather than emigration, unless one assumes all emigrants decided to start calling home in 1998 but not much so before that year. Proof here.

Regarding the air traffic growth, another error: Ch. 4, p.4 of the source document Andrade quotes shows that the source data for the 1990-2004 10-fold air traffic increase is the Bureau of Transport Statiscs (U.S.), who are blind as to the actual origination of passengers. But these were the years when TACA expanded and created the San Salvador hub, which directs much of the C.A. and even some South American traffic... through our country. In actuallity p.3 of the same document reveals that TOTAL ES Migration Dept. air entries/departures were only 1.1 million, and of course, we get significant entries from countries other than U.S. (even if, granted, U.S. is majority). Therefore, the "source data" to say that migrants have increased our national traffic x10 is... questionable. A significant portion of the traffic increase was because of the entrepreneurship of domestic Salvadorean private industry.

To a man who only has a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

To hired-gun "consultants" doing "reports" on emigré populations... everything looks as generated by the emigrés.

The bottom line on this is that (thank goodness) ES would be globalizing anyway because of our privatization, dollarization, and entrepreneurial private industry. The emigrés provide extra fuel to accelerate that process.

Look at the counterpoint, Venezuela. Millions have left since 1999, because of Chavez, especially for Europe (#1) and the US (#2). Believe me, Venezuela IS NOT globalizing right now, millions of exiles notwithstanding.
Anonymous said…
Tim, maybe this also shows not a basket case economy but a developing economy where an increasing share of the population are finding the resources to make international phone calls and air travel. Neither of those are very cheap here. Obviously there is a large segment of the population that this hasn´t reached yet, but this data would tend to show a growing portion of Salvadoran´s are affluent enough to afford them. And the way the Salvadoran immigration authorities have recently begun to strictly enforce their immigration laws, which they have every right and are wise to do so, suggests that other countries surrounding El Salvador see economic opportunities here as well.