Caribbean Dutch residents satisfied despite lower material prosperity, according to research

KRALENDIJK – Despite relatively lower material prosperity compared to mainland Netherlands, residents of Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius, and Saba express high satisfaction with their lives. This is evident from the recently published Monitor Broad Prosperity and the Sustainable Development Goals 2023 by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). However, income inequality on these islands remains significant, and many residents report difficulty making ends meet financially.

The monitor, focusing on the period 2015-2022, explores the quality of life and its impact on future generations and people worldwide. This year, the monitor emphasizes the ‘here and now’ dimension and 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Remarkably, approximately 90 percent of residents on the three islands positively assess their lives, a higher percentage than in mainland Netherlands. Satisfaction has particularly increased on Sint-Eustatius. The disposable income per capita in 2021 on Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius, and Saba ranged between 50 and 60 percent of that in mainland Netherlands, with $17.9 thousand, $18.2 thousand, and $21.2 thousand US dollars, respectively.

Income inequality, measured through the 80/20 ratio and the Gini coefficient, remains substantial in the Caribbean Netherlands. This contrast between high satisfaction and economic challenges paints a unique picture of living conditions on the islands.

Although the level of material prosperity is lower, labor force participation on Bonaire and Sint-Eustatius is even slightly higher than in mainland Netherlands. Unemployment on the islands is also low. Despite a high percentage of individuals with lower education levels, more than 70 percent of residents aged 15 and older are satisfied with educational opportunities.

These findings demonstrate that residents of Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius, and Saba experience a high quality of life despite the economic challenges they face.

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