Poverty Rates Soar Due To Recession
The IDB report on the proposed $9.76 million reform of the Bahamian social security system, an initiative designed to reduce inefficiencies and costs, and ensure benefits reach those most in need, said that while 9.3 per cent of the population – some 5,000 households – had been assessed as living in poverty some 11 years ago, that number was likely to have soared in recent years due to the recession.
The 2001 Bahamas Living Conditions Survey (BLCS), the last time a true nationwide poverty assessment was conducted, found that 83 per cent of households living below the $5,000 annual income poverty line had children under 18 years-old.
Noting that “education outcomes and poverty are closely linked in the Bahamas”, the IDB report noted that only 34 per cent of children from poor families were enrolled in pre-school at three years-old, compared to 75 per cent of non-poor children.
More critically, the IDB report pointed to the “achievement gap”, finding that just 64.6 per cent of the poorest 10 per cent in Bahamian society had completed secondary school, compared to a 93.5 per cent graduation rate for the remainder.
Just 44 per cent of male public high school students achieve this and graduate, and only 51 per cent of female students. This compares to the 87.6 per cent graduation rate at Bahamian private schools, showing the great gap between their educational achievement and that of public schools. The ultimate consequences are borne by Bahamian employers through a generally low-quality, low productivity workforce.
Health was identified by the IDB report as another source of Bahamian weakness. It said that two chronic, non-communicable diseases, hypertension and diabetes, had collectively cost the Bahamian economy $73.7 million in 2001, the former accounting for $46.4 million and the latter $27.3 million. Together, they accounted for a sum equivalent to 1.36 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Caption: Farm Road house. BIS photo Derek Smithcommunity, educational, housing, money, society