By Dalia Díaz
LAWRENCE, MA — This summer, Lawrence will be the site of a study on the viability of ‘diaspora bonds’. Dhariana González, a Lawrence native and recent college graduate, is carrying out research on this important topic in collaboration with her academic adviser, Clarisa Pérez-Armendáriz, Professor of Politics at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.
Diaspora bonds are a savings instrument issued by the countries that Diaspora members call ‘home’. Diaspora bonds are an alternative to regular savings bonds. Professor Pérez-Armendáriz notes that, “Migrants can purchase the bonds for a fixed period and put their hard earned cash to work to benefit their country of origin. They can cash the bonds later and also earn interest.” Diaspora bonds allow governments to fund larger infrastructure projects that they otherwise could not afford.
Researchers at the World Bank claim that immigrants may be willing to invest in such bonds at below market interest rates and under considerable uncertainty because of the patriotic sentiments they have toward their homeland. The governments of Israel and India have issued these bonds to raise much needed capital, but Ireland and Ethiopia were less successful. More recently, Uganda and Jamaica have issued diaspora bonds, but the outcome of their efforts remains to be seen.
“There is a major debate surrounding diaspora bonds and whether or not they are in fact a viable way for developing countries to raise the cash they need to invest in infrastructure and other public goods We are interested in what the Dominican community feels about diaspora bonds,” explains Gonzalez. “The perspectives of Dominican immigrants will help us assess whether Diaspora Bonds could help development in the island.”
The Dominican Republic does not currently issue Diaspora Bonds. Neither González nor Pérez-Armendáriz has ties with a Dominican bank or the Dominican government. Their work, which is funded by Bates’ Harward Center for Community Partnerships, seeks to understand why some émigrés support this proposition while others do not.
The project directors are recruiting members of the local community to participate in a survey as well as a focus group in the coming weeks.
For more information, please contact Dhariana González by phone at 978-857-8627 or email her at Diaspora809@gmail. com. Participants will be compensated for their time.