On Bonaire, purchasing power rose by 3.2 percent in 2012, on St Eustatius and Saba by no less than 4.5 and 4.6 percent respectively. In 2013, purchasing power on all three islands rose less rapidly. Subsequently, the decline levelled off on Bonaire and Saba, but continued to fall on St Eustatius and even dipped below zero in 2014.
More purchasing power for people in workHousehold members who were employed or self-employed in 2013 and 2014, saw their purchasing power improve in 2014. On Bonaire, the increase was 1.9 percent, on Saba 2.1 percent, but on St Eustatius only 0.1 percent. The purchasing power of benefits recipients living on Bonaire also improved in 2013 and 2014 (0.3 percent), as opposed to St Eustatius, where they faced a 0.9 percent loss of purchasing power. Benefits in the Caribbean Netherlands include social security benefits, pensions paid to widows and orphans and old age pensions. Statistical data on the purchasing power of benefit recipients on Saba are not available.
Purchasing power varies with age
On all three islands in the Caribbean Netherlands, persons living in households with a main breadwinner under the age of 40 saw their purchasing power improve in 2014. Most of them are still moving up the career ladder and their incomes are rising as they gain more work experience and qualify for better paid jobs. The purchasing power of people in this age category rose by 1.6 percent, versus 2.8 percent on Bonaire and Saba. Unlike on Saba, where older age groups also gained purchasing power, 40 to 59-year-olds and over-60s on St Eustatius had to cope with considerable loss of purchasing power.
The purchasing power of households with underage children on Bonaire and Saba rose by 3.0 and 2.8 percent respectively, on St Eustatius by 0.2 percent.
Lower incomes on St Eustatius lose purchasing power
On St Eustatius, people in the 75 percent lowest income brackets lost purchasing power, whereas the quarter in the highest income brackets gained 1.5 percent. On Bonaire all income groups saw their purchasing power increase and the increase was income-related: higher incomes gained more purchasing power than lower incomes. On Saba, on the other hand, the lowest 25 percent of incomes gained most purchasing power (5.2 percent). This is partly due to an additional increase in minimum wages and benefits on Saba in 2014. Saba’s highest incomes gained only 0.3 percent.