While many Americans flock to the Bahamas for relaxing beach vacations, these tourists may not think about the economic hardships faced by their island hosts. Here are seven facts about the condition of poverty in the Bahamas:
- The poverty rate in the Bahamas currently sits at 12.5 percent. In 2001, the poverty rate was 9.3 percent. In 2014, the poverty line in the Bahamas stood at $4,247 compared to $2,863 as recorded in 2001.
- The current poverty rate is the highest for those in the under-20 demographic. Chairman of Citizens for Justice Bishop Walter Hanchell explained this statistic to The Freeport News, saying many recent high school graduates have trouble finding work as they lack the necessary skills.
- Unemployment contributes a great deal to poverty in the Bahamas. In 2013, unemployment was recorded at 16.2 percent and has gone down to 15.4 percent according to the 2014 Labor Force Survey. Bahamian scholar Rochelle R. Dean shared her thoughts on unemployment with Tribune242, saying, “the Bahamas has the resources, tools and labour force to reduce the unemployment rate, but lacks the vision and ambition to do so.”
- According to the Household Expenditure Survey, larger families are more likely to be in poverty, with 32 percent of households with seven or more members living below the poverty line.
- Haitians living in the Bahamas have the highest rate of poverty at 37.69 percent, although Haitians represent only 7.48 percent of the Bahamian population. The poverty rates among the islands in the Bahamas vary greatly: poverty rates are the highest within the Family Islands and lowest in Grand Bahama.
- Households led by women are more likely to face poverty in the Bahamas (9.7 percent) than households led by men (7.9 percent). According to the Nassau Guardian, women represent slightly more of the poor population at 51.83 percent.
- In 2012, 10,000 people received financial aid from the Bahamian government, an astounding increase from the 3,000 people in 2004.
Although multiple leaders in the Bahamas are at odds about how to improve the economy, all agree that something must be done, soon. With increasing poverty and unemployment rates, the citizens and leaders of the Bahamas must find a way to come together to improve these conditions.
– Carrie Robinson