The Bahamas is known for its natural beauty which attracts visitors from all over the world. Despite its vibrant tourism industry, this small tropical island faces a persistent battle against poverty. There are many important causes, implications and possible solutions to the economic difficulties faced by Bahamians. Here are some interesting facts about the Bahamas’ poverty rate:
- As of 2017, 14.8 percent of the country’s population lives below the poverty line. Not only is this higher than the average global poverty rate, but the number of people living in poverty continues to increase. Currently, it has grown by two percent since 2014.
- Immigration has a great impact on the Bahamas’ poverty rate. In fact, the majority of impoverished citizens are actually from Haiti. As of 2015, Haitians comprised about 7.48 percent of the population of the Bahamas, with 37.69 percent of these immigrants living in poverty. This statistic is primarily due to economic turmoil in Haiti, which forces many citizens to seek new opportunities in the Bahamas. This turmoil has created a higher demand for jobs and increased the amount of money the Bahamian government spends on preventing illegal immigration.
- The Bahamas’ poverty rate is mainly attributed to the country’s high level of unemployment. Currently, a shocking 14.4 percent of its citizens are unemployed, which is significantly greater than the 4.3 percent unemployment rate in the United States.
- This high rate of unemployment and subsequent poverty is often attributed to a lack of economic diversity in the Bahamas. Sixty percent of the country’s GDP stems from tourism, an industry that has weakened over recent years due to political turmoil, economic instability and high crime rates in the region.
- Another factor contributing to the Bahamas’ poverty rate is climate change. As weather patterns become more turbulent in the Bahamas, natural disasters continue to create a considerable economic strain on the country. This increase in harsh weather leaves citizens without property and resources. Combined with poor infrastructure, the growing intensity of flooding and tropical storms has forced the government to raise spending on disaster relief.
Despite these significant economic strains, strategic government planning and aid from foreign countries have the chance to positively impact the Bahamas’ poverty rate. In fact, in July 2017, the non-profit Organization for Responsible Governance created “Vision 2040,” a new plan for national development in the country.
In a similar fashion to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, this plan urges the government to address issues such as poor strategic planning, lack of financial accountability and country’s one-sector economy.
– Julia Morrison