All Mauritians have benefitted from the country's prolonged economic growth, particularly from the significant reduction in unemployment. A 1992 national survey found that 10.6 percent of the population was living below the poverty line. World Bank estimates put the poverty rate in 1999 at about 5 percent, however. These figures are difficult to compare across countries, since different countries have different definitions of poverty. Primary school enrolment is now close to 100 percent, up from 79 percent in 1980. Education and health care are free, and all Mauritians have access to safe water and sanitation. Life expectancy has also increased from 66 years in 1980 to 71 in 1998. According to the CIA World Factbook , life expectancy is now 75 years for females and 67 years for males.
However, poverty and wealth are still delineated to some extent along racial lines. Descendants of the French plantation owners still control a major portion of the economy, in spite of the fact that they only comprise 2 percent of the population. The Creoles, on the other hand, are the ethnic group which faces the greatest hardships. The recent increase in unemployment may rekindle the racial tensions which seemed to disappear during Mauritius's prosperous years.