A transnational perspective is used in the analysis of the lives of ghanaian migrants based in the netherlands to answer two questions: how do migrants contribute to their home country, and do they also participate in the economy where they reside? an analysis of spending patterns of migrants both in the netherlands and in ghana shows that migrants are doubly engaged. In ghana they invest in housing, business and education, contributing to the daily expenses of people back home and investing in their and their extended family's reputation by donating generously at funerals. At the same time they participate in the dutch economy at the neighbourhood, city and national level. They devise various strategies for juggling their objectives between these two countries. However, ghanaian migrants’ contribution to both countries is hampered by the high costs of identity documents both in the formal and informal economy. The paper thus links dutch migration policies with the consequences for the lives of people back in ghana. As such, it demonstrates the relationship between two areas that are usually kept separate in both academic and policy discourses: development in the third world and the integration of migrants in industrialised countries.