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CHAPTER 1: Introduction  

A remittance is a transfer of money by a foreign worker to an individual in his or her home country. Money sent home by migrants competes with international aid as one of the largest financial inflows to developing countries. Workers' remittances are a significant part of international capital flows, especially with regard to labor-exporting countries. In 2014, $436 billion went to developing countries, setting a new record. Overall global remittances totaled $582 billion in 2015. Some countries, such as India and China, receive tens of billions of US dollars in remittances each year from their expatriates. In 2014, India received an estimated $70 billion and China an estimated $64 billion.Remittances are playing an increasingly large role in the economies of many countries. They contribute to economic growth and to the livelihoods of less prosperous people (though generally not the poorest of the poor). According to World Bank estimates, remittances will total US$585.1 billion in 2016, of which US$442 billion went to developing countries that involved 250 million migrant workers. For some individual recipient countries, remittances can be as high as a third of their GDP.

1.1            Background of the Study

As early as the 1930's, the family Olson (1993) provided perhaps the clearest definition of cohesion. He stated, “Family cohesion is defined as the emotional bonding that family members have toward one another” (p. 105). Epstein, Bishop, and Levin’s theory (1978) also used the terms “emotional bonding”, but they labeled this dimension as affective involvement. Hampson and Beavers (1993) expected family members to have “empathy for each other’s feelings, interest in what each other has to say and expectation of being understood” (p. 83). Similarly, Moos and Moos (1981) conceptualized cohesion to include the degree of commitment, help, and support family members provide for one another.

Olson (1993) stated, “specific concepts or variables that can be used to diagnose and measure the family cohesion dimensions are: emotional bonding, boundaries, coalitions, time, space, friends, decision-making, and interests and recreation” (p. 105). The terms “boundaries” and “coalitions” need more explanation. Minuchin (1974), like Olson (1993), used the term “boundaries”, which he defined as “the rules defining who participates [in the family or small groups within the family] and how” (p. 54). Epstein and his colleagues (1993) used the term “behavior control”, which had a very similar

definition to “boundaries”. They defined “behavior control” as the “pattern the family adopts for…situations involving interpersonal socializing behavior both between family members and with people outside the family” (p. 152). Minuchin (1974) stated, “the clarity of boundaries within a family is a useful parameter for the evaluation of family functioning” (p. 54). “Boundaries” that are too strict, or rigid, keep family members emotionally distant from one another. “Boundaries” that are too diffuse, or almost nonexistent, do not allow family members enough emotional distance from one another. Both Olson (1993) and Minuchin (1974) stressed the importance of “coalitions.” This term refers to small groups, or subsystems, within the family that bond together. Examples of family coalitions include the marital couple, mother-daughters, and father sons. Both theorists agreed these coalitions are healthy as long as members do not become unable to mingle with other family members or gang up on other family members. Theories implied that family cohesion is important to the well-being of the offspring. Therefore, it was hypothesized that lower family cohesion would result in more adolescent behavior problems.

1.2            Statement of the Problem

Every year, thousands of people migrate for employment in foreign countries so that they can send extra money – remittances – to their home country. Previously, scholars have focused on the effects of remittances on the economic development of sending countries like Nigeria. However, the ways remittances influence smaller-scale institutions, such as the family, are seldom studied. Today, people migrate globally for several reasons, mainly because of enhanced economic prospects, for educational and training, for political refuge and also for other reasons. The total population of international migrants was estimated to be 175 million in 2000 (United Nations, 2002). Buch and others (2002) estimated the global amount of remittances was around $ 81 billion each year during the 1990s. Labor migration has become a major source of household income in many developing countries. While there is a lot of academic and policy attention to the linkage between international migration for work and the economic development of a specific country or community through remittances that result from this pattern of migration (Harris and Todaro, 1970; Zimmermann, 1992; Papademetrious and Martin, 1991), the influence of remittances on migrants‟ own family members who stay home is seldom explored. Do remittances bind family members together in mutual hope and pooling of resources to achieve common goals, or do they split families apart in ego-trips and inequality of resource distribution among individuals? How much of remittances go not for consumption and investment per se, but for the mitigation of the negative externalities of separation? Do families adjust to and embrace the transnational lifestyle or its permanent maladjustment more than the norm? Is the family unity – based on emotional attachment, intimacy, and priority of group over individual needs – survive spatial dispersion? The problem confronting this research therefore is to investigate the role of remittance on family cohesion.


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