Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Ruth Iyob, PhD.


David Kimball

Jean-Germain Gros

Kenneth Thomas


This dissertation investigates the impacts of transnational remittances and the institutionalization of diaspora engagement on development in Africa. Remittances to Africa are now around $50 billion annually and larger than inflows of foreign aid and investment. African governments continue to realize the potential contributions of their diasporas to development through not only remittances but through skills, expertise-sharing, and coordination of efforts. In 2000, four African countries had national-level institutions nominally dedicated to the diaspora and its potential to effect development: now 36 of the 54 governments have such an institution. An assessment of the political economy of remittances and governmental diaspora institutions reveals structural challenges to leveraging the contributions and skills of the diaspora for development. Through longitudinal instrumental variables regression analysis, data from between 1990 and 2010 from 43 African countries are used to test the hypotheses that (1) as the ratio of remittances to gross national income increases to a critical value, African states will experience higher growth rates in human development, after reaching a critical value, African states will experience lower growth rates in human development; and (2) African states with a national-level formal institution of the diaspora will experience higher growth rates in human development than those without such an institution. The results show that smaller amounts of remittance are positively associated with development and that larger amounts are negatively so. Overreliance on remittances exposes a dearth of opportunities within a state’s borders and the costs to production and development of losing too many citizens to outmigration. Though the analysis finds no statistically significant difference between development in countries with and without national level diaspora institutions, research reveals a common set of challenges for these budding organizations: inadequate data, intergovernmental coordination, and resources. Diasporic Africans stand to impact development on the continent now more than ever. For development, African governments now must balance the challenges of leveraging the skills and expertise of growing diasporas on one hand, and on the other, managing migration by increasing institutional capacities so that citizens can thrive and want to stay.

OCLC Number