Photo description: Caribisch Nederland, kind.

Bonaire

Population

Early 2020 Bonaire had 20.9 thousand residents, 5.4 thousand more than early 2010. Between 2011 and 2013 the number of residents increased by an average of approximately 900 per year. In 2019 the population increased by 811. In 2019 net migration was high: 717 moved to Bonaire finally.

Three times as many Haitians since 2011

Bonaire residents born in Bonaire, Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten, Saba or St Eustatius (the former Netherlands Antilles) or in the European Netherlands, almost without exception, have Dutch citizenship. Of those born in Europe, nearly one quarter had Dutch citizenship on January 1st, 2020. This proportion declined by eight percentage points relative to 2011. One third of those born in Central and South America had Dutch citizenship. This proportion declined by six percentage points relative to 2011.

The number of Haitians tripled between 2011 and 2020. Since newcomers from Haiti considerably less often adopted Dutch citizenship, the proportion of people with Dutch citizenship among born Haitians more than halved. The proportion of people born in the United States and Canada with Dutch citizenship is 12 percent and increased slightly relative to 2011.

Bonaire residents with Dutch citizenship, native region, 1 of January (%)
werelddel 2011 2020
Europe (excl. Netherlands) 31 23
European Netherlands 100 100
Central and South America
(excl. Caribbean Netherlands)
39 33
United States, Canada 10 12
Caribbean Netherlands 99 98
Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten 99 99

Less single-person households

Early 2020 41 percent of the people in Bonaire lived in a single-person household. This is a decline by three percentage points relative to 2012. The proportion of couples without children increased from 17 percent (2012) to 22 percent (2020). The proportion of couples with children and the proportion of single-parent households was 23 percent and 13 percent respectively and remained more or less unchanged relative to 2012.

Households in Bonaire, 1 of January (%)
2020 2012
Single-person household 40,66659568 44,10163339
Couple without children 21,31828346 16,68295407
Couple with children 22,95815142 22,67206478
Single-parent household 13,31061655 13,89082787
961 Birt h s Em i g r a t i o n Imm i g r a t i o n 447 D e a t h s +1,962 P o p u l a t i o n d y n am i cs B o n ai r e , 2015-2019 5,227 6,675 P o p u l a t i o n g r o wth

Labour

In 2018 the size of the working age population (15 to 74 years) on Bonaire was 15.4 thousand, with 73.1 percent in employment, 4.6 percentage points more than in 2012. The labour force participation rate in 2018 was in higher than at the beginning of the decade. Of the men,74.9 percent were employed in 2018 (70.2 percent in 2012) versus 71.1 percent of the women (2018, 66.6 percent in 2012). Participation is relatively low among young people and the lower educated. Nevertheless, the net labour participation of all groups has increased between 2012 and 2018 except that of the higher educated (6 percent decrease).

Bonaire’s unemployment rate in 2018 was just over 3 percent, versus almost 6 percent in 2012. This is equivalent to almost 370 unemployed persons in 2018 who were actively looking and available for work. In 2012 there were 550 persons unemployed.

In 2018 almost 3.8 thousand Bonaire residents did not form part of the local labour force. In 2012 this was 3.5 thousand. They were not looking, nor were they available for work, in most cases, a combination of both. The group available but not looking for work decreased in 2018 compared to 2012: from 18 to 11 percent.

A large group (35 percent in 2018, 30 percent in 2012) were people who were unwilling or unable to work due to old age or retirement. For 22 percent of those not in the labour force in 2018 (20 percent in 2012) – young residents in particular – education was the predominant reason why they were unwilling or unavailable for work. Other smaller groups include people who were unable to work due to a disability (11 percent) or because they had to take care of family (6 percent).

Net labour participation (% of population)
2012 2018
Total 68.5 73.1
Male 70.2 74.9
Female 66.6 71.1
15 to 24 years 45.5 46.0
25 to 44 years 83.9 88.8
45 to 74 years 63.7 69.3
Education level . .
Low education level 62.8 68.0
Intermediate education level 73.4 79.4
High education level 82.9 76.8
Population not in labour force (15 to 74 years) (% of population not in labour force)
reason 2012 2018
Not available or not looking . .
Available but not looking for work 18.4 11.5
Looking but not available for work 1.2 2.6
Not available and not looking . .
Wants to work 3.7 4.1
Doesn't want to or can't work due to . .
Care 5.9 6.3
Education 20.2 22.1
Retirement or old age 29.7 35.4
Illness, disability, poor health 9.8 10.8
Other reason 11.1 7.2

Wages and jobs of employees

Wages vary widely depending on characteristics and type of work. In 2018, women’s wages were 8 percent lower than men’s. This gap is narrowing. In 2011, the difference was 18 percent.

Average annual wage of employee jobs by gender (USD)
yeay Male Female
2011 23220 19120
2012 23910 20730
2013 24220 21250
2014 25040 22240
2015 24590 22370
2016 24490 22330
2017 24870 23330
2018* 25550 23440
*provisional figures

The average annual wage of employees on Bonaire was 24.6 thousand US dollars in 2018 and 20.9 thousand in 2011. This is an increase of 18 percent. The part of groups earning less than 20 thousand US dollars decreased from 60 to 50 percent.

Employee jobs by earning group (%)
year less than 5,000 dollar 5,000 to 10,000 dollar 10,000 to 20,000 dollar 20,000 to 30,000 dollar 30,000 to 40,000 dollar 40,000 to 50,000 dollar 50,000 to 100,000 dollar 100,000 to 500,000 dollar
2011 12 13 36 19 10 5 5 1
2018* 9 8 32 22 11 8 9 1
*provisional data

Macroeconomics

The gross domestic product (GDP) of Bonaire increased from 372 million US dollars in 2012 to 428 million US dollars in 2017. That is an average increase of 2.8 percent per year during this period.

Gross domestic product (mln USD)
year GDP
2012 372
2013 387
2014 403
2015 415
2016 434
2017 428

In volume terms GDP increased by 1.7 percent on average per year. GDP volume growth is calculated by adjusting the value growth for inflation on the basis of the consumer price index. The negative GDP growth in 2017 was caused primarily by a substantial reduction of production of the transport, storage and communication sector.

High population growth and an increase in government spending are important factors explaining GDP growth in the years prior to 2017.

GDP volume growth (year-on-year % change)
year percentage change
2013 2.4
2014 1.6
2015 3.4
2016 2.2
2017 -1.3

GDP per capita increased slightly from 21.9 thousand US dollars in 2012 to 22.1 thousand US dollars in 2017. When corrected for inflation, GDP per capita decreased by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2012.

GDP per capita (volume index 2012=100)
year (2012=100)
2012 100
2013 97.1
2014 94.7
2015 95.4
2016 96.8
2017 95.6

Energy

Electricity production (mln kWh)
years Fossil Renewable
2009 73.9 1.5
2010 77.3 4.9
2011 58.8 26.3
2012 58.6 32.5
2013 56.9 36.7
2014 56.1 41.2
2015 63.3 40.1
2016 73.4 35.1
2017 81.9 31.5
2018* 76.0 37.1
2019* 88.1 32.5
*provisional figures

In 2009 Bonaire produced 75.4 mln kWh of electricity and in 2019 this was 120.6 mln kWh, an increase of 60 percent. Of the total electricity production of 120.6 mln kWh in 2019, 32.5 mln kWh (27 percent) was renewable energy.

Most of this (99 percent) was produced by wind turbines. Solar panels produced the remaining one percent. Over the past ten years the proportion of renewable energy was highest in 2014: 42.3 percent. Since then that proportion has stabilised around 30 percent.

Income

In 2018, the median disposable income of households on Bonaire was 24.3 thousand US dollars, the same as in 2013. Since then, the income grew to a peak value of 26.4 thousand US dollars in 2016, after which it decreased again. The income in 2018 was 2 thousand US dollars less than in 2016. For households with income primarily from work the same pattern applies. In 2018 they had 27.5 thousand US dollars to spend, nearly 8 percent less than in 2016. The income for social benefit receivers was 7.7 thousand US dollars in 2018 and showed a gradual decline since 2011.

Median disposable household income (1,000 USD (in prices of 2018))
year All households Main income from work Main income from social benefits
2011 23.8 26.3 8.0
2012 23.4 25.7 7.8
2013 23.5 26.4 7.8
2014 23.7 26.6 7.5
2015 24.6 27.7 7.7
2016 25.6 28.8 7.7
2017* 25.1 28.3 7.7
2018* 23.5 26.6 7.5
*provisional figures

Purchasing power

For Bonaire residents the purchasing power development in 2018 was negative for the first time since 2012. In median, the decline with regards to 2017 was 1.1 percent. Between 2012 and 2017, when the buying power improved, the largest increase was in 2015 (4.6 percent). In the same period the purchasing power for employed people increased slightly more on an annual basis than the population as a whole. In 2018 they faced a minor 0.5 percent decrease in purchasing power. Households with primary income from social benefits were most negatively affected with a 2.8 percent buying power decline in 2018. Likewise in 2016, they lost some of their purchasing power.

Purchasing power development (year-on-year % change)
All households Main income from work Main income from social benefits
2012 3.2 3.6 2.9
2013 1.6 2.0 0.4
2014 2.0 2.7 0.3
2015 4.6 5.5 2.5
2016 3.0 3.4 -0.5
2017* 1.0 1.6 0.1
2018* -1.1 -0.5 -2.8
*provisional figures

Since 2012 households with children experienced positive changes in buying power. The peak in 2015 – merely due to deflation – was followed by years of decreasing purchasing power growth. In 2018 the median increase in purchasing power was for both couples with children and one-parent households lowest so far, namely 1 percent. Annually, for households without children the purchasing power changes were less prosperous. Both couples without children and other multi-person households lost purchasing power in 2017 and 2018.

Purchasing power development by household composition (year-on-year % change)
Single-person households One-parent households Couples, without child(ren) Couples, with child(ren) Multi-persons households n.e.c.
2012 2,9 5,6 2 4,7 3,2
2013 0,7 4,4 0,6 2,8 0,8
2014 0,7 5,5 0,4 4,3 0,7
2015 2,5 7,6 2,5 5,9 5,3
2016 0,8 6,3 0,1 4,2 3,1
2017* 0,1 2,3 -0,1 3,2 -0,3
2018* -2,8 1 -2,8 1,1 -1,3
* provisional figures

Income inequality

On Bonaire the income inequality is the most stable among the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. Its Gini coefficient had a value of 0.40 in 2018. The disparities in standardized disposable income have remained unchanged on Bonaire since 2011. Expressed in terms of the Gini coefficient 0 means total equality: everyone has the same income, and 1 means total inequality: one person has all the income, the rest has none.

Gini coefficient
Gini coefficient
2011 0.39
2012 0.39
2013 0.39
2014 0.40
2015 0.40
2016 0.39
2017* 0.40
2018* 0.40
*provisional figures

Nature

In comparison to economic and social developments, ecological processes can only become apparent and be understood in the context of long timespans.

Flamingo

The annual average number of flamingos is an indicator for the health of salt lakes and wetlands. Bonaire has a relatively small, but regionally important, population of these migratory birds. Since the early 1980’s the population has been stable.

Flamingo abundance (yearly average)
Year Bonaire Total
2010 2520
2011 3026
2012 1946
2013 2083
2014 2429
2015 3081
2016 2646
2017 4702
2018 3381
2019 2560

Coral cover

Coral reefs are of great value to Bonaire. These attract dive and snorkel tourists, protect against storms and support local fisheries. Since the early 1970’s the seabed cover by living coral has decreased. Even on the healthiest locations living coral cover went down from around 70 percent to below 30 percent.

Seabed cover by living coral (% coverage of the shallow seabed)
Year Coral cover
2010 28
2011 24
2012 18
2013 30
2014 20
2015 24
2016 24
2017 27
2018¹⁾ .
2019 29
1)missing data

Seagrass

Seagrass beds capture CO2, trap sediments and protect beaches. They are a nursery ground for numerous fish species, foraging grounds for turtles and conch, and are capable of filtering human pathogens from the water. In recent years, invasive seagrasses have taken over living space from endemic seagrasses. Current sargassum influxes are a threat to the seagrass beds and already some area has been lost resulting in beach erosion in some areas.

Seagrass species density in Lac Bay (% coverage)
year Shoal grass Invasive grass Manatee grass Turtlegrass Bare sand
2011 2.0 6.0 1.9 52.9 37.1
2013 0.6 14.2 3.0 40.4 41.7
2015 0.0 21.3 4.2 37.8 36.7
2017 1.4 24.9 3.3 33.6 36.9
2019 0.4 28.8 3.1 25.2 42.5
Turtle nests
Year number of nests
2010 50
2011 59
2012 101
2013 121
2014 83
2015 77
2016 99
2017 128
2018 105
2019 88

Education

Education on Bonaire is similar to the European part of the Netherlands and Dutch and Papiamentu are the languages of instruction. Bonaire has eight government-funded schools, seven primary schools and a secondary school that offers both general and vocational education.

There is no government-funded higher education. Between 2013 and 2017, 306 young adults born in the former Netherlands Antilles or Aruba traded Bonaire for the European Netherlands. Two-thirds did so for educational purposes.

The enrolment of pupils in primary education increased from 1 597 in 2010/’11 to 1 946 in 2019/’20. This is in line with the increase of the population of the relevant ages. The average number of pupils per school in 2019/’20 was 278.

Enrolment in primary education
year Population on January 1st: 5 to 14 years Enrolment in primary education on 1 October
2010/'11 1988 1597
2011/'12 2070 1640
2012/'13 2094 1627
2013/'14 2206 1679
2014/'15 2288 1727
2015/'16 2294 1778
2016/'17 2304 1843
2017/'18 2288 1893
2018/'19** 2347 1899
2019/'20* 2476 1946
**revised provisional figures
*provisional figures

The enrolment of students in secondary education increased from 1 294 in 2010/’11 to 1 730 in 2019/’20. Most of these students followed general education. In 2019/’20 31 percent followed vocational education (MBO).

Enrolment in secondary education
year Total secondary general education (VO) Vocational programmes (MBO)
2010/'11 1078 216
2011/'12 1039 340
2012/'13 1102 350
2013/'14 1145 505
2014/'15 1147 610
2015/'16 1124 624
2016/'17 1125 570
2017/'18 1108 520
2018/'19** 1123 493
2019/'20* 1188 542
**revised provisional figures
*provisional figures

On Bonaire students can choose from all four levels of MBO, like the European part of the Netherlands. Together with the Council of Education and Labour Market Caribbean Netherlands (ROA CN), the school determines which courses should be offered in order to meet future demand on the labour market.

Enrolment in MBO by field of education
year Economics Technology Health and welfare Combination of sectors 1) Total sectors
2010/'11 123 36 57 0 .
2011/'12 152 74 70 44 .
2012/'13 . . . . 350
2013/'14 203 106 135 61 .
2014/'15 225 157 172 56 .
2015/'16 240 176 156 52 .
2016/'17 176 159 135 100 .
2017/'18 153 137 126 104 .
2018/'19 162 92 146 93 .
2019/'20* 163 102 150 127 .
*provisional data
1)The courses in ‘Combination of sectors’ are all on the level of entrance training.
Enrolment in MBO by level of education
year Entrance training MBO 2 MBO 3 MBO 4 Total MBO
2010/'11 . 74 118 24 .
2011/'12 74 87 159 20 .
2012/'13 . . . . 350
2013/'14 79 112 234 80 .
2014/'15 91 135 209 175 .
2015/'16 81 153 148 242 .
2016/'17 100 137 242 91 .
2017/'18 104 135 183 98 .
2018/'19 93 142 174 84 .
2019/'20* 127 142 199 74 .
*provisional figures

Consumer prices

Between 2010 and 2019 prices on Bonaire increased by 17.4 percent. The average increase was 1.8 percent per year. In the first half of 2020 prices have decreased mainly due to allowances for electricity, drinking water and internet provided by the government to support the population during the corona crisis.

During 2011 and 2012 prices rose sharply on Bonaire, on average with 4.1 percent per year. In 2013 and 2014 prices rose more gradually at a rate of 1.6 percent per year. From 2014 onwards the overall price levels remained relatively stable until 2017, after which the general price level increased. In 2018 prices rose by 3.4 percent.

CPI (year-on-year % change)
year Year-on-year change CPI
2011 5.3
2012 2.9
2013 1.7
2014 1.5
2015 -0.9
2016 0.5
2017 0.6
2018 3.4
2019 1.3

On Bonaire prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages as well as transport increased between 2010 and 2012 with roughly 6 percent. Prices for food and beverages remained stable from 2013 until 2017 after which they started to increase. In 2015 prices for transport dropped by almost 9 percent mainly due to drop in petrol prices. Prices for air travel increased from 2016 onwards.

Prices for housing, water and energy increased by 18.6 percent between 2010 and 2019. Prices rose between 2010 and 2013 and then slowly dropped until 2017 after which they increased again. The main causes here are the price developments of electricity and water.

CPI Food, Housing and Transport (2017=100)
year Food and non-alcoholic beverages Housing, water and energy Transport
2010 88.8 92.9 94.5
2011 95.6 93.3 100.9
2012 99.9 97.3 105.2
2013 98.8 106.0 106.8
2014 101.0 104.7 106.9
2015 100.7 101.9 97.7
2016 100.4 101.3 96.4
2017 100.0 100.0 100.0
2018 102.0 107.7 104.3
2019 104.8 110.3 107.4

Tourism

In 2019, the number of visitors arriving in Bonaire by air was nearly 160 thousand. This is a growth of 21 percent relative to 2013. The largest growth in the period 2013–2019 occurred in the last two years when the number of flight movements to Bonaire increased as well. The period 2013–2016 saw only minor growth, followed by a small dip in 2017 due to problems with a local airline company, among others.

Most visitors originated from the European Netherlands, the United States, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten. The market of the European Netherlands became more important since 2013, while the market of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten, on the contrary, became less important.

Number of visitor arrivals by air (x 1 000)
Jaar Totaal
2013 131.0
2014 128.9
2015 133.4
2016 135.8
2017 128.5
2018 147.8
2019* 157.8
* preliminary data
Visitor arrivals by air, by citizenship (%)
Nationaliteit 2013 2016 2019*
Dutch (Europa) 29 32 39
American 21 21 22
Dutch (Aruba, Curaçao en St. Maarten) 30 26 20
Other European citizenships 7 10 10
South American 6 7 4
Canadian 2 2 3
Other citizenships 3 3 2
* preliminary data

Tourism in Bonaire is not only driven by visitor arrivals by air. Cruise tourism is also important. Cruises accounted for 458 thousand passengers in 2019. This is a growth of 322 percent relative to 2013. Due to the island’s extra efforts to attract more cruises to Bonaire, the number of passengers particularly increased from 2017 onwards. It has not been measured what proportion of the cruise passengers has actually disembarked.

Number of cruise passengers (x 1 000)
Maand 2013 2016 2019*
jan 36,0 31,3 73,9
feb 22,5 23,4 39,9
mar 19,5 25,4 48,3
apr 14,0 8,6 41,1
may 0,4 3,9 21,7
jun 0,4 7,3 19,1
jul 0,5 4,1 19,9
aug 0,2 3,6 23,8
sep 0,2 9,8 21,5
oct 0,2 6,7 29,1
nov 13,5 47,8 51,6
dec 34,7 44,6 67,8
* preliminary data

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2019–2020 2018 to 2019 inclusive
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