Poverty in Jamaica Poverty rate
Jamaica has struggled with poverty, unemployment and crime for the past half century, but the nation has recently seen ambitious government economic policies bear fruit. Discussed below are the leading facts about poverty in Jamaica and their implications.

8 Facts about Poverty in Jamaica

  1. Jamaica is not in extreme poverty and is regarded as a middle income country. For comparison, Jamaica has about 1/20th the GDP per capita of the United States, but a four-times-higher GDP per capita than the nearby country Haiti.
  2. Since the 1970s and 80s, Jamaica has experienced serious problems with poverty and unemployment. Through the 90s, unemployment remained around 15 percent, with poverty above 25 percent. The unemployment rate is currently 14 percent and poverty is 16 percent.
  3. A serious hindrance to Jamaica’s development has been slow rates of economic growth. In the past 30 years, Jamaica has had an average annual GDP growth rate of less than one percent. The slow growth rate is a major cause of persistent poverty in Jamaica.
  4. Relationships between Jamaican officials and crime groups cause widespread corruption, which results in many of Jamaica’s problems. The corruption not only hurts law abiding Jamaican citizens, but makes foreign investors far more hesitant to get involved in Jamaican industry.
  5. Public education in Jamaica is not entirely free. There is a registration fee and other school expenses that are not covered by the government. As a result, many of the nation’s most poor children are not able to attend school.
  6. Jamaica jumped 27 places in the 2015 Doing Business ranking, as the Jamaican government has improved its credit rating and decreased the national debt. It is hoped that the improved ranking will increase investment and alleviate poverty in Jamaica.
  7. The World Bank has a positive outlook for Jamaica’s economy, with forecasts of the country’s GDP growth rate climbing to over two percent in 2017.
  8. The Jamaican Government is currently working with the UNDP and the European Union to alleviate poverty on both a macro and micro level. Poverty alleviation and achievement of Millennium Development Goals remains a top priority for the Jamaican government.

Despite Jamaica’s history of poverty and some ongoing problems, economic forecasts for the country remain optimistic. It is possible that Jamaica will experience an economic resurgence and alleviate problems of unemployment and poverty in coming years.

John English

Photo: Pixabay

As of January 2014, Jamaica had an unemployment rate of 14.9%, which was a decrease from the 15.4% in December 2013.

Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley’s celebrity in the U.S. and openness about his use of marijuana has formed a reputation for Jamaica as being an island where marijuana use and sales are legal. Jamaica is in actuality a very conservative country that prohibits the use and distribution of marijuana.

The growth of marijuana crops, in fact, have steadily declined because of the war on drugs by the U.S. and other competitors, but this has not hindered American travelers from visiting Jamaica in hopes of experiencing the effects of marijuana that Bob Marley openly supported.

Regardless of the decline, Jamaica still has a vast supply of marijuana tourists from the U.S. and all over the world. Jamaica is still the lead smuggler of marijuana into the U.S., which brings a great deal of people into the country to buy weed and explore the cannabis culture in Jamaica.

Many growers are quickly learning that making money off of tourists is quite easy when it includes marijuana. Nine Mile, famous for being the hometown of Bob Marley, offers many different marijuana tours, each of which take relatively large groups of Americans, Germans and Russians through small marijuana farms.

These tours are also common in Negril, Jamaica, and are slowly adapting to become common in places such as Colorado and Washington state, where marijuana has become legalized.

With these tours, average-to-minimum waged locals are able to make a decent chunk of money by letting tourists explore their farms and sample their inventory, often leading many of the tourists to purchase their product.

One Jamaican marijuana farmer dubbed “Breezy” sells his bags of marijuana through the wall-hole of a museum, where marijuana tourists line up and smoke weed, usually just for the sheer novelty that Bob Marley smoked weed on the same island.

One tourist traveling from Minnesota stated, “I can get stronger stuff at home, but there’s something really special about smoking marijuana in Jamaica. I mean, this is the marijuana that inspired Bob Marley.”

The large amount of marijuana tourism that is illegally occurring in Jamaica begs the question of why it hasn’t been legalized.

Marijuana could prove to be a great benefit and a pillar for health tourists. One Jamaican scientist named Henry Lowe, who was a partner in developing a marijuana-based glaucoma treatment, believes that legalizing marijuana could bring in even more tourism than there already is.

By legalizing marijuana, attention and money is estimated to be pulled from gangs and arresting large criminal parties and be refocused on other important matters, such as creating official jobs for those living below the poverty line and helping lower class growers gain a larger following. Overall, the island would benefit and reap massive economic gain by legalizing marijuana and freeing up money.

– Becka Felcon

Sources: Trading Economics, The Guardian, Telegraph
Photo: High Times Caribbean