Grenada - Poverty and wealth

There are no available statistics regarding the distribution of wealth in Grenada, but it is obvious that there is a gulf between a wealthy minority and a substantial sector of poor Grenadians. According to the World Bank, some 32 percent of Grenadians live in conditions of poverty. Recent government research suggests that most of these households are in rural areas, often in the most inaccessible and sometimes drought-ridden parts of the island. Unemployment or underemployment are the main problems in rural areas, especially for young adults who wish to escape what they see as the drudgery of agricultural labor. Squatting (the illegal occupation of government-owned land) is not uncommon in makeshift communities around St. George's. Some of the worst poverty is to be found on former estates, where barracks-like accommodations are still used by rural laborers. In such communities, housing conditions can be extremely rudimentary, with no sewerage and little access to other services. Clean drinking water is available throughout the island, even if poorer families have to resort to sharing a communal water pipe.

The radical PRG government of 1979-83 introduced measures to improve conditions among the rural poor, including low-cost loans for building materials and a network of village medical clinics. Some of these initiatives have been maintained since, and the current government has invested substantially in health and education. Even so, the cost of school uniforms and textbooks is often prohibitive for some families.

A prosperous middle class exists in St. George's, made up of professionals in the import-export businesses or new sectors such as tourism and data processing. Another comparatively wealthy group is made up of returning migrants, many amassing large savings after decades working in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Private education and health facilities exist for the rich, who are accustomed to sending their children to the United States for their education. The urban elite has tended to look down on the rural majority, especially during the 1950s and 1960s when poor peasants and agricultural laborers formed the bulk of support for the eccentric populist politician, Eric Gairy.

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Grenada N/A 1,709 2,111 2,819 3,347
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.

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Grenada 29 4 10 2 13 20 21
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Jamaica 24 7 3 1 9 8 48
St. Lucia 40 5 11 4 17 11 11
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.
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