Central African Republic - Poverty and wealth

Unemployment, given the lack of work opportunities in the CAR, is low at 6 percent, but poverty is high. In 1998, life expectancy was estimated at less than 45 years and less than half of the population could read. Per capita income levels have remained among the lowest in the world. Though most Central African families have limited income, they benefit from climatic conditions that enable them to produce enough food to survive. Most Central African people live under similar rural conditions, where food is available but money and consumer goods are more difficult to obtain. Social services, such as health care and education are seriously lacking.

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Central African Republic 454 417 410 363 341
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Dem. Rep. of Congo 392 313 293 247 127
Chad 252 176 235 228 230
SOURCE : United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Central African Republic
Lowest 10% 0.7
Lowest 20% 2.0
Second 20% 4.9
Third 20% 9.6
Fourth 20% 18.5
Highest 20% 65.0
Highest 10% 47.7
Survey year: 1993
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE : 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

The urban population centered in Bangui is diverse, encompassing many different occupations and classes. However, as in several other countries in the region, the wealthy share their fortune with poorer relatives who live in rural areas, who frequently send gifts of produce in exchange for money. Many urban dwellers make their living through small-scale commerce. Women are particularly active in buying, processing, and selling different food commodities in local markets.

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