Caribbean Netherlands: income inequality lowest on Saba

© We Share Bonaire/Jan Wachtmeester


It was recently determined that the Income Tax source data used for this publication were incomplete. As a result, the income for some households has not been properly determined. Statistics Netherlands is working on a revision of the results.

Initial estimates indicate that deviations have arisen since 2016 and have increased by 2020 to an underestimation of the income of the entire population in the order of 3 to 13 percent, depending on the chosen statistic. New results will be published in June for 2021 and 2022, after which the previous years will also be revised based on the current data.
Of the three Caribbean Dutch islands, Saba had the lowest income inequality in 2016. According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the distribution of incomes was most uneven on St Eustatius, whilst Bonaire was in the middle range.

The disparities in standardised disposable income - income adjusted for differences in household size and composition - have remained virtually unchanged on Bonaire since 2011.

Between 2014 and 2016, the Gini coefficient stood at 0.40, versus 0.39 in previous years. Saba has had the lowest income inequality of the three islands since 2012 (0.37 in 2016). The largest inequalities in standardised disposable income between households were recorded on St Eustatius, where the Gini coefficient rose from 0.41 in 2014 to 0.44 in 2016. The Gini coefficient for the European Netherlands decreased from 0.3 to 0.29 in this period.

Internationally, the Gini coefficient is the most frequently used instrument to measure income inequality. The value ranges between 0 (total equality; all households have the same income) and 1 (total inequality; one household has all the income).

Income inequality, 2011-2016*
Gini coefficientBonaire (Gini coefficient)St Eustatius (Gini coefficient)Saba (Gini coefficient)
* provisional figures

Income inequality based on 80/20 ratio

According to the 80/20 ratio, indicating the relation between the highest 20 percent of incomes and the lowest 20 percent of incomes, Saba had the lowest income inequality in 2016 as well, with a value of 7.86. The highest value was measured on St Eustatius (13.51), with Bonaire occupying the middle ground (9.49).

Income distribution on Bonaire

In 2016, households on Bonaire had an average disposable income of 27.4 thousand US dollars. Standardised disposable income amounted to 22.6 thousand US dollars. At 18.5 thousand US dollars, the median income is lower than the average income.

Incomes between 10 and 15 thousand US dollars are most prevalent. Almost 20 percent of Bonaire’s households fall into this category. Within this group, nearly 4 out of 5 households had income from employment and over 1 in 5 were primarily dependent on benefits.

Incomes between 15 and 20 thousand US dollars were almost as prevalent as incomes between 10 and 15 thousand US dollars. Of those with incomes between 0 and 5 thousand US dollars, one half mainly had income from employment and the other half were mainly dependent on benefits.

There are not enough data available to present a similar chart for St Eustatius and Saba.

Bonaire: households by standardised income categories, 2016*
 Mainly income from employmentMainly income from benefits
0 - 5300300
5 - 10700350
10 - 151200200
15 - 201150100
20 - 258500
25 - 306000
30 - 354000
35 - 403000
40 - 452000
45 - 501500

The figures marked by an asterisk (*) in this news release are provisional and may be adjusted.