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Zero Poverty in Wake Island
Wake Island is a small landmass resting between Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Spanish discovered the island in 1568 and received its name from William Wake, a British Captain who came across the island in 1796. It covers a total of 6.5 square Km, which is approximately 11 times the size of the National Mall in Washington, DC. This island boasts an impressive statistic: there is zero poverty on Wake Island.

Wake Island’s Background

In 1899 the U.S. created a cable station on the island after seizing it from Spain. In 1941, the country then constructed an air and naval base. However, the Japanese stole it shortly after, forcing the U.S. to bomb the island until Japan surrendered. By 1945, the U.S. recaptured Wake Island. During World War II, the island served as a military landing strip for the Pacific region. Wake Island is a National Historic Landmark due to its involvement in WWII. It has been under preservation by the National Preservation Act since 1966 and is protected by the United States Air Force. The U.S. government maintains the Island for emergency landings.

Reasons for the Absence of Poverty

However, Wake Island has no indigenous people: the only residents on the island come from the United States government and are contractors or military personnel. The sparse population watches over the facilities and airfields. There is currently one military doctor on the island for emergencies. There are no commercial flights to or from Wake Island, making it accessible solely to military personnel. The only telecommunication systems on the island are the Defense Switched Network circuits off the Overseas Telephone System (OTS), located in the Hawaii area code.

Approximately 150 people live on Wake Island as of 2019. Wake Island’s small perimeter does not have the structure or capabilities to hold more people. Thus, the small population creates the condition of zero poverty in Wake Island.

The U.S. regulates, and the present military personnel manages the island. The U.S imports all of the island’s food and manufactured goods for the limited population. By having the food and products imported, Wake Island has a lower possibility of falling into poverty. The island’s currency is in U.S. dollars due to its status as a United States territory. With the U.S. defensive base and government support, the island stays out of poverty.

Environmental Impacts on the Economy

In 2006 a super typhoon almost hit Wake Island, carrying the potential to devastate the island. The government evacuated all residents, but due to the storm’s size, there was a possibility of severe damage. The storm could have destroyed the island’s economy; however, despite the storm’s 155 miles per hour winds, no significant impact affected the military base or buildings. With wreckage of only trees, power lines and rods, the island was fortunate to escape destruction narrowly.

Since 2006, there have not been any storms or other major disasters to threaten the island’s economic status. The island also did not contribute to any wars: following WWII, the island sat peacefully with zero damage. This overall safety has significantly contributed to the absence of poverty in Wake Island.

– Mackenzie Reese
Photo: Flickr

top 10 switzerland

Switzerland is a great example of how addressing poverty and encouraging economic growth can lead to a multitude of positive outcomes. It is a country full of history, rich culture and magnificent mountains. Recently, the country has popped up on the radar as its general state of living has risen to a considerably high level. Many have started to consider moving to the alpine country as a result. Below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Switzerland.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Switzerland

  1. The cost of living in Switzerland is extremely high. The value of the franc increased when the country switched to a floating exchange rate. Bern, Zurich, and Geneva were ranked among the most expensive 15 cities in the world.
  2. The high cost of living isn’t a huge problem for Swiss citizens as the net financial wealth of the average household in Switzerland is $128,415, compared to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developments reported an average of $90,570. The net adjusted disposable income for the average household sits at $36,378 compared to the OECD reported an average of $30,563. This means that Swiss households have over $6,000 more to spend per year on goods and services. Switzerland was placed third on the scale of the highest amount of disposable income in Europe.
  3. Overall poverty is low. Only 6.6 percent of the population is reported to live in poverty, and only 4.6 percent live in extreme poverty. The rate of poverty has been decreasing steadily since 2007.
  4. Healthcare in Switzerland has gained a reputation of its own. Their combination of private, subsidized private and public healthcare systems experience no wait-lists, highly qualified doctors, hospitals and medicals facilities with the best equipment seen around Europe. However, the universal healthcare system is not free, nor is it tax-based. Health insurance in Switzerland is mandatory, and the out of pocket payments and monthly premiums are pricey for the individual. Swiss health insurance is reported to cost around 10 percent of the average Swiss salary.
  5. Switzerland has a high-quality education system as well. The country comes in at nine out of 65 countries in an educational standards survey given to 15-year-olds. Unlike most countries, the Swiss have a decentralized education system that is not paid for by the government. The 26 member states that make up the country are primarily responsible for the system. Education has a multilingual focus, which encourages international students and the option for public, private, bilingual and international schools.
  6. The country has a life expectancy of 83 years, which is three years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. The life expectancy is high despite the slightly higher than average level of atmospheric pollutants that are damaging to the lungs. Reports measure the rate of pollutants at 14.5 micrograms per cubic meter, whereas the average is 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter.
  7. Switzerland ranks below average in civic engagement. It has one of the lowest levels of voter turnout in the OECD at 49 percent; whereas, the reported average is 69 percent. The gap between voters is large as well. Fifty-nine percent of the top 20 percent of the population participates, in comparison to 41 percent of the lowest 20 percent of the population. This is a larger gap than the average.
  8. Crime continues to fall to lower rates in Switzerland. In fact, in 2017, crime was down by more than 6 percent. Burglaries are the most common offense in Switzerland, making up two-thirds of the reported criminal offenses. Burglaries had also decreased by 6 percent, but police threats and cybercrime were reported to rise last year.
  9. Childcare was also quite expensive in Switzerland. As a result of this, a temporary programme has set out to increase the number of child care facilities in the country. This will increase the number of options parents have for childcare and lower the rate as supply and demand will encourage competition and lower prices.
  10. Overall, Swiss are much more satisfied with their living conditions than most. They scored a 7.5 out of 10 on the scale for satisfaction, compared to the OECD average of 6.5.

Switzerland is doing quite well. The economic growth along with the decline of poverty rates have resulted in better childcare, education, rates of disposable income and increased safety. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Switzerland act as a clear paradigm of how addressing poverty and encouraging economic growth has a positive domino effect on other aspects of life. Not only do people live better but they also feel happier and enjoy a closer sense of community. Addressing global poverty does much more than just save lives, it betters the individual, the country, the economy and the impact on the rest of the world.

Mary Spindler

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Switzerland Swiss Poor Areas Poverty Rate

Poverty in Switzerland remains lower than many of its European neighbors. However, rates still affect a large part of the population. So, why are the Swiss poor? In the country, a lack of awareness about poverty combined with a high cost of living compounds the struggles felt by impoverished residents. Below are the leading facts about poverty in Switzerland.

Top Seven Facts about Poverty in Switzerland

1. One in 13 Swiss Residents Lives Below the Poverty Line.

Switzerland is one of the world’s wealthiest nations. However, data shows that one in 13 residents of Switzerland are still living in poverty. This rate may come as a surprise to many, as Switzerland is often associated with economic stability. By comparison, an estimated one in five residents of Britain lives in poverty, while the average resident of Zurich makes 21 times more per hour than the average resident of Kiev, Ukraine. Switzerland’s poverty rate is significantly lower than nearby European nations, however, 6.6 percent of the Swiss population still lives in poverty.

2. The High Cost of Living Amplifies the Issue.

Residents of Switzerland must account for a high cost of living; food prices and the cost of housing make daily financial needs quite high. Mandatory private health insurance adds further expense. Recent reports show Zurich and Geneva as two of the most expensive cities in the world in terms of cost of living, with certain reports placing the cities above New York City. However, higher incomes in the cities typically offset this cost, with high purchasing power reported. As a result, Zurich and Geneva rank second and third respectively in terms of purchasing power (surpassed only by Luxembourg.)

3. The Poverty Line is Set to Incorporate the Cost of Living.

In order to account for the high cost of living in Switzerland, the poverty rate has been set to incorporate the financial demands of living in the country. For a single person, the poverty line is set as making less than 2,200 francs per month (equal to slightly more than $2,200 in the U.S.) A couple living with two children is considered below the poverty line if earning less than 4,050 francs per month. Poverty in Switzerland is understood as the inability to afford the goods and social services necessary for a healthy and socially integrated life. The Swiss Conference for Social Statistics sets poverty line thresholds based upon meeting those needs.

4. Elderly, Immigrant and Single-Parent Populations are Especially Vulnerable.

Certain populations in Switzerland are especially vulnerable to poverty. These populations are much like the vulnerable populations in many countries, including families with only one parent, elderly residents, the unemployed, unskilled laborers and people living alone. Rates of poverty among these populations are significantly higher than other demographics. For example, those over the age of 60 are nearly three times more likely to live in poverty.

5. Trial and Error Approach to Solutions, Including Universal Basic Income.

As Switzerland seeks to address the levels of poverty that remain in the country, a referendum was voted on which would have paid each Swiss family a weekly guaranteed income. While the referendum failed in a vote this June, it represents an innovation in seeking solutions to poverty. Switzerland is the first country to consider a solution of this kind. Some consider the failure an important step, nonetheless, as it provides a platform for discussing the meaning of basic income.

6. Wages and Income Can Be Quite High in Relation to European Neighbors.

Incomes in Swiss cities are often quite high, with the average resident of Zurich earning $41 per hour or more. This level of earning is often what leads to the association of Switzerland with a lifestyle of security and contributes to offsetting high costs of living. However, for the 6.6% of Swiss residents who do live in poverty, keeping up with city living costs (dependent on similar wages) can lead to a daily struggle.

7. Poverty in Switzerland is Decreasing.

The good news for addressing poverty in Switzerland is a recent decrease in the number of those living in poverty. Since 2007, rates have decreased from 9.3% to 6.6%.

Assessing poverty in Switzerland demonstrates the importance of not allowing a minority impoverished population to go overlooked. The country’s innovative and consistent efforts to address poverty represent a democratic model for the discussion surrounding poverty in developed nations.

Charlotte Bellomy

Photo: Flickr