India topped the list of countries receiving remittances, followed by China ($60 billion), the Philippines ($24 billion), Mexico ($23 billion) and Nigeria and Egypt ($21 billion each), it said on Friday.
According to the latest edition of the World Bank's Migration and Development Brief, officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries grew by 5.3% to reach an estimated $401 billion in 2012.
Remittances to developing countries are expected to grow by an annual average of 8.8% for the next three years and are forecast to reach $515 billion in 2015, it added.
“Migration and remittances offer a vital lifeline for millions of people and can play a major role in an economy's take-off. They enable people to partake in the global labour market and create resources that can be leveraged for development and growth.
"But they are also a source of political contention, and for that very reason deserving of dispassionate analysis," said Kaushik Basu, the World Bank's Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Development Economics.
Officially recorded remittance flows to South Asia are estimated to have increased sharply by 12.8% to $109 billion in 2012, the World Bank report said.
This follows growth averaging 13.8% in each of the previous two years, it added.
As a percentage of GDP, the top recipients of remittances, in 2011, were Tajikistan (47%), Liberia (31%), Kyrgyz Republic (29%), Lesotho (27%), Moldova (23%), Nepal (22%), and Samoa (21%), the report said.
Remittance flows to developing countries have more than quadrupled since 2000.
Global remittances, including those to high-income countries, are estimated to have reached $514 billion in 2012, compared to $132 billion in 2000, the report added.
The World Bank had yesterday announced the establishment of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), envisioned to become a global hub of knowledge and policy expertise on migration issues.
Nearly one billion people -- that is, one out of every seven persons on the planet -- have migrated internally and across international borders in search of better opportunities and living conditions, with profound implications for development.
"The role of remittances in helping lift people out of poverty has always been known, but there is also abundant evidence that migration and remittances are helping countries achieve progress towards other Millennium Development Goals, such as access to education, safe water, sanitation and healthcare," said Hans Timmer, Director of the Bank's Development Prospects Group.