Worsening poverty in Barbados

Barbados Today:-A new study shows that the level of poverty in Barbados has risen over the past seven years with more and more Barbadians,  especially women, becoming trapped below the line.

The findings of the Barbados Survey of Living Conditions 2016-2017 were officially released here this morning during a Skype presentation at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

The survey, which was carried out among 7,100 Barbadians from 2,500 households in 11 parishes, revealed that 17.5 per cent of the population was currently living in poverty, up from 15.1 per cent in 2010, when the last survey was conducted.

However, the number of Barbadians living in extreme poverty has fallen by almost half from 6.8 per cent in 2010 to 3.6 per cent in 2016, while those living in non-extreme poverty more than tripled from 3.8 per cent to 13.8 per cent, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-funded research found.

The survey, which was undertaken in collaboration with the Barbados Statistical Service between February 2016 and January 2017, also showed that Barbadians were generally more vulnerable to poverty, as that category of persons increased from 10.4 per cent to 11 per cent.

In presenting the findings,  IDB Project Leader Diether Beuermann Mendoza said that a significant gender gap also exists.

He told the gathering, which included Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett, Minister of Health John Boyce and Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, that not only do women head 57 per cent of households in Barbados, they also account for a significant percentage of the island’s poor (21.02 per cent), when compared to men (13.96 per cent).

More women were also counted among the extreme poor than men (4.15 per cent compared to 2.4 per cent), with education seen as one way out of this vicious cycle. With teenage pregnancies on the decline, it is expected that the gender bias would be further reduced in the future.

The study also revealed that the rich households have smaller families and a link was made between poverty and low-quality dwellings, such as those without flush toilets, running water and electricity.