With nearly 27 thousand dollars, the median disposable income at St Eustatius is the highest in the Caribbean Netherlands. On Saba the median income is 24 thousand and on Bonaire 23 thousand dollars. Compared to 2011 the median income of Saba and St Eustatius grew faster than inflation. This is shown by Statistics Netherlands in the study on income in the Caribbean Netherlands for 2012.
Income increases mainly in the lowest income groups
In 2012 the median disposable income in the Caribbean Netherlands was higher than in 2011. The highest income increase was on St Eustatius with 9 percent, followed by Saba with a 6.3 percent increase and Bonaire with a rise of 1.8 percent.
Income rose particularly in the 25 percent group, or quartile, of households with the lowest incomes. This group mainly consists of employees on minimum wages, pensioners and other people on benefits. In 2012 the income in the lowest quartile on St Eustatius was 11.6 percent higher than in 2011. On Bonaire the rise was 5.9 percent and on Saba 6.8. These percentages are in line with the inflation in the third quarter of 2011 which is used by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment for indexation of the legal minimum wage and benefits in the Caribbean Netherlands.
Greatest income inequality on St Eustatius
St Eustatius has the greatest income inequality: with median disposable incomes varying from nearly 8 thousand dollars in the lowest quartile to over 63 thousand dollars in the highest. On Bonaire income ranged from over 7 thousand dollars in the lowest quartile to nearly 57 thousand dollars in the highest. Saba had an income range between over 7 thousand to nearly 54 thousand dollars.
Highest single-person household incomes on St Eustatius
In 2012 the median disposable income of single-person households on Bonaire was more than 13 thousand dollars, on Saba just over 15 thousand dollars. Singles on St Eustatius had nearly 18 thousand dollars at their disposal. In multi-person households there is usually more than one income earner and as a result their income is generally higher. On Bonaire and Saba the incomes of multi-person households in 2012 were around 30 thousand dollars, more than twice as high as the income of singles. Op St Eustatius multi-person households had nearly 32 thousand dollars.
Highest incomes among 40 to 60 year-olds on St Eustatius
Households with a main income earner aged between 40 and 60 have the highest median disposable incomes. People in this age bracket have more work experience than their younger colleagues and often better jobs, so they tend to earn more. The income of 40 to 60 year-olds was highest on St Eustasius with more than 32 thousand dollars. The incomes of this group on Saba were 4 thousand dollars lower and on Bonaire over 6 thousand dollars.
Among younger households with a main income earner younger than 40 the median disposable income is highest on Saba with nearly 24 thousand dollars, compared to almost 23 thousand on St Eustatius and over 18 thousand dollars on Bonaire.
Income usually falls when people get their pensions. The income of people over 60 then mainly depends on old age pension benefits (AOW) and extra pensions, if any. On Bonaire this older group has the highest median disposable income among the islands with nearly 22 thousand dollars.
Median provides better picture when the income distribution is skewed
Incomes in the Caribbean Netherlands are distributed very unevenly, with relatively many clusters at rather low incomes and relatively few high incomes. But in the calculation of the average income, the high incomes push the average to a higher level than the amounts that are common in the current relatively low incomes. This gives a distorted picture. To present a more realistic figure, and come closer to the rather large bulk of relatively low incomes, we opted to show the median of the income distribution. If all incomes are ranked from low to high, the median of disposable income equals the middle income. This means that exactly half of the population has a lower or equal income and exactly the other half a higher income. The median value is below the average.