Barbados - Poverty and wealth

In terms of poverty eradication, Barbados is a success story, with high per capita GDP, a good level of social

Exchange rates: Barbados
Barbadian dollars (BDS$) per US$1
2001 2.000
2000 2.000
1999 2.000
1998 2.000
1997 2.000
1996 2.000
Note: Fixed rate pegged to the US dollar.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

service provision, and positive health indicators. The United Nations Human Development Index places it third among all non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries for its development statistics, ahead of Singapore and other economic successes. Although many Barbadians continue to live in small wooden houses, access to clean water, electricity, and medical facilities is universal. Public education is of a good standard, as are health services. The political culture of consensus has ensured that all Barbadian governments have aimed to eradicate poverty and bring about a degree of wealth redistribution.

As a result of these policies, Barbados has a large, literate, and financially comfortable middle class, many of whom are employed in the public sector. No recent statistics are available regarding percentage share of household income, but it is certain that Barbados does not suffer the same extremes of social division as other Caribbean countries.

However, there remains a wealthy minority, part of which is directly descended from the white plantation owners of the colonial period. Known still as the "plantocracy," these families have extensive interests in retailing, tourism, and the financial sector. Since the country's independence this small elite has retained its economic influence, although its political power has waned, and it remains distanced from the majority black population.

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Barbados 5,497 6,764 6,373 7,340 7,894
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Jamaica 1,819 1,458 1,353 1,651 1,559
St. Lucia N/A 2,076 2,150 3,542 3,907
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
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