The average family size in Puerto Rico is 3.6, and the average family income is just over US$27,000. The government has consistently focused on making education, health care, and better housing more available to the population. Some 7 percent of the island's GDP is earmarked for education. Although literacy has increased to 90 percent, and most children complete at least 8 years of school, a high drop-out rate is still a problem for Puerto Rico. The University of Puerto Rico,
|GDP per Capita (US$)|
|Note: Data are estimates.|
|SOURCE: Handbook of the Nations , 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th editions for 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 data; CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online] for 2000 data.|
the main public university, offers a wide variety of programs. There are also several private universities. Vocational schools have recently helped to combat unemployment rates.
Health conditions and standards are approaching those of the United States. The government funds urban and rural health clinics to provide basic health care on a local level. Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs have also contributed to maintaining health standards. The Urban Renewal and Housing Corporation oversees a broad range of specialized housing programs and focuses on projects in low-income areas. Although birth control and family planning efforts have helped reduce population growth, improved conditions on the island have recently encouraged many Puerto Rican outmigrants to return from the continental United States, which puts more strains on health-care delivery and housing.
Although Puerto Rico's per capita GDP is remarkably high in comparison to the rest of the Caribbean, it is still lower than the per capita GDP of the poorest U.S. state, Mississippi. Even though the GDP is growing more rapidly than the island's population, about half of the people in Puerto Rico receive Food Stamps, a benefit available only to those whose incomes fall below a certain level.