Remittances, the money migrants send to their communities and families back home, have long been recognized as a driver of development in poor countries. But while their economic benefits are better appreciated, their political effects are no less consequential: remittances are one of the most potent weapons against dictatorship. Bolstered by funding from abroad, citizens in closed societies grow less reliant on autocratic governments and more likely to call for reform. The money migrants send makes grassroots pressure possible, opening the door to democratic change.

Around the world, remittances reached a record high of $548 billion in 2019. They have become the

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  • ABEL ESCRIBÀ-FOLCH is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political and Social Sciences of Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.

  • COVADONGA MESEGUER is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at ICADE, Comillas Pontifical University, Madrid.

  • JOSEPH WRIGHT is Professor of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University.

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