Photo description: Een inwoner van St Eustatius heeft wat kleine boodschappen gedaan bij een plaatselijke kruidenier.

What percentage of the population has difficulty making ends meet?

In 2021, approximately 20 percent of the population aged 15 years or older on Bonaire and Saba said they had difficulties making ends meet with their income. This figure was higher on St Eustatius namely over 30 percent. In 2017, the situation on Saba was different: 36 percent of the population said they had difficulties making ends meet.

Difficulty making ends meet (% of the population aged 15 years and over)
Kenmerk 2021 2017
Bonaire 20 24
St Eustatius 32 25
Saba 23 36

In 2021, around 15 percent of the population on the three islands said that monthly housing costs were a major financial burden for them. This percentage was higher in 2017 on Saba and Bonaire, but not on St Eustatius.

Differences based on education level

The experienced difficulties are linked to people’s level of education. On St Eustatius, people with a low level of education were almost twice as likely to experience difficulties making ends meet than people with a high level of education; 40 and 20 percent respectively. On Bonaire, this was almost three times (29 percent) compared to those with medium or high level education (10 percent). On Saba, there was no difference between the lower and higher educated.

40% of people on St Eustatius with low education have difficulties making ends meet

Not enough money for specific purchases

Around 70 percent of the population on all three islands said they did not have enough money for one or more specific expenses. This varied from paying for a hot meal featuring meat, chicken, fish or meat substitute every other day (lowest on Bonaire, namely 10 percent) to paying for unexpected financial expenses (highest on St Eustatius, namely 60 percent). On all three islands, half of the population did not have enough money to replace worn-out furniture while approximately 45 percent were unable to afford a one-week holiday every year.

The percentage of people saying they did not have enough money to buy new clothes on a regular basis varied greatly per island: from 15 percent on Saba to 45 percent on Bonaire. Also different per island was the percentage of people with not enough money to invite family or friends to dinner at least once a month. This was over 25 percent on Saba and over 35 percent on St Eustatius.

Financial constraints, 2021 (% of the population aged 15 years and over)
Categories Bonaire St Eustatius Saba
Cannot afford to . . .
Face unexpected
necessary expenses
51 60 42
Replace worn-out furniture 51 51 49
Take a one-week
holiday each year
47 46 43
Buy new clothes
45 22 15
Invite family or friends
over for dinner
31 36 26
Eat a hot meal with meat,
chicken or fish every other day
10 24 21
Make at least one of
the above expenditures
68 74 74

Concerns about financial future

On St Eustatius, almost 60 percent of the population had many concerns about their financial future.noot1 This was around 45 percent on Bonaire and Saba, where people with low and medium education levels in particular were very concerned. On Bonaire, people between 15 and 45 years of age were more concerned about their financial future (50 percent) than people aged 45 and over. Particularly on Saba, women (51 percent) were more concerned about this than men (38 percent).

Many concerns about financial future, 2021 (% of population aged 15 years and over)
Kenmerk Bonaire St Eustatius Saba
Total 43 57 45
Sex . . .
Male 44 55 38
Female 42 59 51
Age . . .
15 to 44 yrs 50 61 48
45 yrs and over 37 54 41
Education level . . .
Low 45 60 47
Medium 46 52 52
High 33 52 31

More information on income


Explanation – Concerns about financial future

The level of concern about their financial future was determined using the following question: ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, could you say how often you are concerned about your financial future? 1 stands for ‘never’ and 10 for ‘continuously’.

A score between 7 and 10 is classified as ‘many concerns’ about their financial future; a score of 5 and 6 as ‘few concerns’, and a score between 1 and 4 as ‘no concerns’.


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