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Did COVID-19 affect purchasing power in the Caribbean Netherlands?

In 2020, government support to mitigate the financial consequences of the coronavirus crisis for the working population contributed to a positive purchasing power development in the Caribbean Netherlands. The median purchasing power rose by 4.2 percent on Bonaire, by 2.4 percent on St Eustatius and by 4.1 percent on Saba.

Median purchasing power development ( year-on-year % change)
Year Bonaire St Eustatius Saba
2012 3.2 4.5 4.6
2013 1.6 2.3 3.3
2014 2.0 1.1 3.1
2015 4.6 4.6 3.1
2016 3.0 2.0 6.1
2017 1.0 2.6 0.6
2018 -0.9 3.2 -0.1
2019 4.6 5.6 5.5
2020* 4.2 2.4 4.1
* Provisional figures

Improvement in purchasing power

Due to the emergency COVID-19 support to local companies, employee jobs were barely lost and wages not reduced in 2020. Self-employed entrepreneurs were also compensated for their income losses. In addition, a number of steps were taken as of 2019 to improve livelihood security, boosting purchasing power on all three islands. In 2020, the child benefit was raised by more than 30 percent. Both social benefits and the statutory minimum wage received a supplemental increase as well. Furthermore, in 2020, a compensation on water, electricity and internet on all three islands gave a further boost to local purchasing power.

From 2012 to 2017, the median purchasing power throughout the Caribbean Netherlands improved each year. On Bonaire and Saba, average price levels increased more rapidly than incomes in 2018, leading to purchasing power losses. There where purchasing power gains again from 2019 onwards, although on all three islands the gain was less substantial in 2020 than in the preceding year.

2020 offered positive median purchasing power gains Buitenvorm Binnenvorm

The median purchasing power rose for all types of households. Due to the raised child benefit, the improvement was most evident in households with underage children. Single parents on Bonaire and Saba benefited most: for them, spending power increased by 7.4 and 6.1 percent, respectively.

Median purchasing power development by household composition, 2020* ( year-on-year % change)
Bonaire St Eustatius Saba
Single-person household 5.0 2.9 4.1
Single-parent family 7.4 3.6 6.1
Couple without child(ren) 3.5 1.8 3.2
Couple with child(ren) 4.0 1.0 3.2
Multi-person household, other 1.4 1.6 6.7
* Provisional figures

More information about purchasing power development


Median purchasing power development

Purchasing power is defined as the equivalised household income adjusted for price developments which are based on the consumer price index (CPI). Purchasing power is used to determine income changes (in real terms), but may also be used to determine (developments in) differences in prosperity between individuals or households.

The development is measured as the change in median purchasing power. The median is defined as the value separating the higher half from the lower half. In simple terms, it may be thought of as the ‘middle’ value of a data set.


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More information (in Dutch only):

Explanation of symbols

Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

About CBS

Statistics Netherlands (CBS)

In a society where the amount of information is growing explosively, free access to reliable and integral data is crucial. As the national statistical office, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) provides reliable statistical information and data to produce insight into social issues, thus supporting the public debate, policy development and decision-making while contributing to prosperity, well-being and democracy.

CBS was established in 1899 in response to the need for independent and reliable information that advances the understanding of social issues. This is still the main role of CBS. Through time, CBS has grown into an innovative knowledge institution, with continuous adoption of new technologies and developments in order to safeguard the quality of its data and its independent position.

CBS in the Caribbean Netherlands

Statistics Netherlands opened an office on Bonaire in 2010. The Bonaire office is responsible for all statistics referring to the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands: Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, compiling statistics about prices, population, labour, income, the economy, tourism and trade.

Publications can be found in the dossier Caribbean Netherlands.


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Statistics Netherlands

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Email: caribischnederland@cbs.n

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