Photo description: Caribisch Nederland, muzikanten.

Saba

Population

Early 2020 Saba had 1.9 thousand residents. This is 152 more than early 2010. The net migration figure was 18 in 2019 and 48 in 2010.

Native-born North Americans and Europeans more often have Dutch citizenship

Nearly all people born in the former Netherlands Antilles, Aruba or the European Netherlands have Dutch citizenship. In 2020 native-born North Americans and Europeans had Dutch citizenship slightly more often than in 2012. Native-born Central and South Americans, on the contrary, had Dutch citizenship slightly less often than before.

Saba residents with Dutch citizenship, native region, 1 of January (%)
werelddeel 2011 2020
Europe (excl. Netherlands) 14 16
European Netherlands 100 100
Central and South America
(excl. Caribbean Netherlands)
37 34
United States, Canada 3 5
Caribbean Netherlands 98 98
Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten 95 94

Less single-person households

The proportion of single-person households declined from 60 percent in 2012 to 55 percent in 2020. This lower percentage of single-person households is related to the clean-ups of the population register. During these clean-ups students from North America who were temporarily living in Saba because of their (medical) studies and who had not been removed from the population register after leaving Saba were removed after all. The proportion of couples, with and without children, and the proportion of single-parent households saw a minor increase.

Households in Saba, 1 of January (%)
2020 2012
Single-person household 55,27589545 60,07677543
Couple without children 15,97289448 15,25911708
Couple with children 16,45692159 14,68330134
Single-parent household 10,93901258 8,541266795
P o p u l a t i o n d y n a m i cs S a b a , 2 0 1 5 -201 9 78 Birt h s Em i g r a t i o n Imm i g r a t i o n 56 D e a t h s +86 1,408 1,344 P o p u l a t i o n g r o wth

Labour

The size of the working age population (15 to 74 years) on Saba was slightly under 1.8 thousand in 2018, with 65.8 percent in employment. This was 2.7 percent point more than in 2012. The labour force participation rate in 2018 as well as in in 2012 was slightly higher among men than among women and lower among young people than among middle and older age groups. The labour participation of the youngest group however, increased significantly between 2012 (35.7 percent) and 2018 (44.5 percent).

Participation rates were the lowest among the highly educated. A relatively large group of medical students living on the island did not combine their studies with work. Among people with low educational attainment, 69.7 percent were in employment in 2018 (67.4 percent in 2012) versus 82.5 percent of those with an intermediate education level (83.5 percent in 2012) and 49.0 percent of the highly educated (48.4 percent in 2012). In 2018 Saba’s unemployment rate was low at 2.4 percent in 2018 (3.9 percent in 2012).

In 2018 580 residents did not form part of the local labour force on Saba, 10 more than in 2012. They were not looking, nor were they available for work, in most cases a combination of both. A large group (24 percent in 2018, 17 percent in 2012) were people who were unwilling or unable to work due to old age or retirement. However, education was still the main reason why people on the island were unwilling or unable to work (55 percent in 2018 versus 50 percent in 2012). This is primarily the effect of a relatively large group of young people who are enrolled in the medical university. Other smaller groups included people who were unable to work due to a disability (7 percent in 2018, 5 percent in 2012) or because they had to take care of family (5 percent in 2018, 7 percent in 2012).

Net labour participation (% of population)
group 2012 2018
Total 63.1 65.8
Male 63.8 67.0
Female 62.2 64.6
15 to 24 years 35.7 44.5
25 to 44 years 73.5 72.3
45 to 74 years 66.9 67.0
Education level . .
Low 67.4 69.7
Intermediate 83.5 82.5
High 48.4 49.0
Population not in labour force (15 to 74 years) (% of population not in labour force)
2012 2018
Unavailable or not looking . .
Available but not looking for work 10.0 4.2
Looking but not available for work 1.6 0.9
Not available and not looking . .
Wants to work 4.8 2.2
Unable or unwilling to work due to . .
Care 7.5 5.0
Education 50.4 55.0
Retirement or old age 16.5 24.4
Illness, disability, poor health 4.9 7.5
Other reason 4.3 0.9

Wages and jobs of employees

Wages vary widely depending on different characteristics and types of work. In 2018, wages for women were 17 percent lower than for men. This gap is becoming smaller. In 2011, the difference was 23 percent.

Average annual wage of employee jobs by gender (USD)
year Male Female
2011 32220 24750
2012 32170 24610
2013 31660 24450
2014 30660 25660
2015 31720 26600
2016 32210 25840
2017 32240 26120
2018* 32440 27000
*provisional figures

The average annual wage of employees on Saba was 29.3 thousand US dollars in 2018 and 26.6 thousand in 2011. There was a small increase of 10 percent. The part of groups earning less than 30 thousand US dollars decreased from 71 to 65 percent.

Employee jobs by earning group (US dollar) (%)
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 6 12 31 22 8 11 8 2
2018* 8 7 27 23 13 6 13 2
*provisional data

Macroeconomics

The gross domestic product (GDP) of Saba increased from 42 million US dollars in 2012 to 47 million US dollars in 2017. That is an increase of 2.3 percent per year during this period.

Gross domestic product (mln USD)
year GDP
2012 41
2013 45
2014 46
2015 47
2016 48
2017 47

In volume terms GDP increased by 0.9 percent on average per year, mainly due to high GDP growth in 2013 of 5.5 percent. GDP volume growth is calculated by adjusting the value growth for inflation on the basis of the consumer price index.

Saba is a small economy that is very dependent on the public sector, the tourism industry and the medical university. In 2017 Saba’s economy was negatively affected by hurricane Irma and Maria.

GDP per capita increased from 21.4 thousand US dollars in 2012 to 22.6 thousand US dollars in 2017. When corrected for inflation, GDP per capita increased by 4.6 percent in 2017 compared to 2012.

GDP volume growth (year-on-year % change)
year percentage change
2013 5.5
2014 -0.2
2015 1.2
2016 -0.5
2017 -1.4
GDP per capita (volume index 2012=100)
year (2012=100)
2012 100.0
2013 108.9
2014 114.0
2015 112.3
2016 106.1
2017 104.6

Energy

Electricity production (mln kWh)
years Fossil Renewable
2009 8.3 .
2010 8.9 .
2011 8.8 .
2012 8.9 .
2013 9.2 .
2014 9.3 .
2015,0 9.4 .
2016 9.6 0.1
2017 9.1 0.1
2018* 7.5 1.5
2019* 6.9 2.4
*provisional figures

In 2019 the electricity production was 9.3 mln kWh, as it was in the past ten years. 2.4 mln kWh (25.7 percent) of this production was renewable energy. In 2018 this was still 1.5 mln kWh (16.7 percent).

Saba now has two solar parks. The first park started production in February 2018, followed exactly one year later by the second park.

Income

In 2018 the median disposable income of households in Saba was 27.7 thousand US dollars. This was over 3 thousand US dollars more than in 2011 when people had 24.5 thousand US dollars to spend. Since 2013, when the income was 25 thousand US dollars, there was a gradual year-on-year increase. For households with primarily income from work the disposable income fluctuated more. However, in the longer run it grew from 28.7 thousand US dollars in 2011 to 30.8 thousand US dollars in 2018.

Median disposable household income (1,000 USD (in prices of 2018))
year All households Main income from work
2011 23.9 27.9
2012 25.5 29.0
2013 24.3 27.1
2014 25.2 29.0
2015 25.4 28.2
2016 26.2 29.3
2017* 26.6 29.9
2018* 27.0 30.0
*provisional figures

Purchasing power

On Saba, the purchasing power increased between 2012 and 2017. However, the 6.1 percent peak in 2016 dropped to a minor 0.6 percent increase in 2017. In 2018 the population lost purchasing power for the first time since 2012: the median decrease as compared to 2017 amounted to 0.3 percent. Exactly half of the population than experienced a negative buying power. In contrast, among the working people the median buying power in 2018 improved with 1 percent.

Purchasing power development (year-on-year % change)
year All households Main income from work
2012 4.6 5.0
2013 3.3 4.3
2014 3.1 2.7
2015 3.1 4.3
2016 6.1 5.4
2017* 0.6 0.2
2018* -0.3 1.0
*provisional figures

Income inequality

Since 2012, Saba has the lowest income inequality on the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. The value of the Gini coefficient was 0.37 in 2017 and 2018. 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. In 2011 the Gini coefficient was 0.41. In the period from 2012 to 2018 the Gini value balanced between 0.36 and 0.38.

Gini coefficient
year Gini coefficient
2011 0.41
2012 0.38
2013 0.38
2014 0.36
2015 0.38
2016 0.36
2017* 0.37
2018* 0.37
*provisional figures

Nature

Coral cover

Over the last three decades seabed cover by living coral has decreased rapidly. In comparison with the coral cover in the mid 1990’s less than one-fifth is left.

Sharks and rays

Shark and ray populations are in sharp decline worldwide. They are top predators that control the natural balance in fish populations and are thus important for fisheries. Sharks and rays are also a key attractor for dive tourism.

Average number of sharks and rays sighted per dive
Year Sharks Rays
2012 0.61 0.24
2013 0.62 0.28
2014 1.00 0.23
2015 0.88 0.25
2016 0.87 0.27
2017 0.91 0.28
2018 1.40 0.24
2019 1.31 0.24
Average number of turtles sighted per dive
Year Number of turtles sighted per dive
2012 0.41
2013 0.54
2014 0.56
2015 0.63
2016 0.73
2017 0.87
2018 0.76
2019 0.80

Education

Saba has two government-funded schools, one primary school and a secondary school that offers both general and vocational education. There is no government-funded higher education. Between 2013 and 2017, 21 young adults born in the former Netherlands Antilles or Aruba traded Saba for the European Netherlands. More than half did so for educational purposes.

The enrolment of pupils in primary education slightly increased from 155 in 2010/’11 to 158 in 2019/’20, about in line with the population curve of the relevant ages.

Enrolment in primary education
year Population on january 1st 5 to 14 years Enrolment in primary education on 1 October
2010/'11 192 155
2011/'12 183 146
2012/'13 172 154
2013/'14 178 150
2014/'15 198 158
2015/'16 209 165
2016/'17 202 166
2017/'18 198 167
2018/'19** 194 149
2019/'20* 189 158
**revised provisional figures
*provisional figures

The enrolment of students in secondary education increased from 99 in 2010/’11 to 113 in 2019/’20. Most of these students followed general education. Secondary general education on Saba follows a Caribbean education system, with English as the language of instruction. As of 2019/’20 Saba has switched to a – different Caribbean – system for both secondary general and vocational education. In that way education is more in line with regional further education and the regional labour market. In the next years the courses of the Dutch MBO (vocational education) will therefore be replaced by the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ).

Enrolment in secondary education
year Total secondary general education (VO***) Vocational programmes (MBO)
2010/'11 99 .
2011/'12 94 .
2012/'13 89 12
2013/'14 75 20
2014/'15 71 14
2015/'16 77 6
2016/'17 92 7
2017/'18 101 6
2018/'19** 100 3
2019/'20* 98 15
*** Total secondary general education (VO) includes CVQ in 2019/’20*
** revised provisional figures
* provisional figures

On Saba MBO started in 2012/’13. MBO-students can choose from two levels of education: the entrance training and the second level. 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 demand on the labour market. With the introduction of CVQ in 2019/’20 the MBO-courses will gradually fade out. On the other hand, in 2019/’20 a level 2 course for pedagogical staff members in the childcare was started, for employees who already work in childcare as well.

Enrolment in MBO by field of education
year Economics Technology Health and welfare 1)
2012/'13 5 7 .
2013/'14 8 12 .
2014/'15 5 9 .
2015/'16 3 3 .
2016/'17 3 4 .
2017/'18 2 4 .
2018/'19 . 3 .
2019/'20* . 1 14
1)In 2019/'20 a level 2 course for pedagogical staff members in the childcare was started, for employees who already work in childcare as well.
* provisional data
Enrolment in MBO by level of education
year Entrance training MBO 2 1)
2012/'13 . 12
2013/'14 7 13
2014/'15 4 10
2015/'16 . 6
2016/'17 . 7
2017/'18 . 6
2018/'19 . 3
2019/'20* . 15
1) In 2019/'20 a level 2 course for pedagogical staff members in the childcare was started, for employees who already work in childcare as well.
* provisional data

Consumer prices

Between 2010 and 2019 the general price level on Saba rose by 17.9 percent. This is 1.8 percent per year. In the first half of 2020 prices have decreased mainly due to allowances for electricity and internet provided by the government to support the population during the corona crisis.

During 2011 and 2012 prices rose sharply and then more gradually until 2014. From 2014 onwards the overall price levels remained relatively stable until 2017 after which the general price level increased.

CPI (year-on-year % change )
Saba Year-on-year change CPI
2011 6.4
2012 3.7
2013 1.2
2014 2.0
2015 0.5
2016 0.1
2017 -0.2
2018 2.6
2019 0.5

Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by more than 8 percent per year in 2011 and 2012. The increases in the period after 2012 were more limited, on average 1.6 percent. The exception was 2017 when prices dropped by 2.5 percent. Prices for housing and energy changed in 2011 by 6 percent, in 2015 by 7,6 percent and in 2018 by 7.7 percent. These changes were mainly due to increases in prices for electricity.

CPI Food, Housing and Transport (2017=100)
year Food and non-alcoholic beverages Housing, water and energy Transport
2010 82.0 86.4 91.2
2011 89.4 91.6 100.9
2012 96.1 91.6 102.2
2013 97.3 89.8 103.2
2014 100.4 90.5 105.7
2015 102.0 97.4 101.0
2016 102.6 97.9 100.5
2017 100.0 100.0 100.0
2018 101.1 107.7 99.5
2019 103.0 107.7 104.1

The price development for transport is mainly influenced by the prices for petrol and flights. In 2011 prices for transport increased by 10 percent due to price increases for both petrol and flights. The gradual decrease in prices between 2015 and 2018 was due mainly to petrol prices.

Tourism

In the period 2013–2019 the number of visitor arrivals by air in Saba remained virtually unchanged. In 2013 the number of visitor arrivals was 9.7 thousand and in 2019 8.9 thousand. After several years of minor decline, the upward trend seems to have resumed in 2019. Saba has an airport where only small airplanes can land. Like St Eustatius, the island has to depend on St Maarten for international connections. Here too hurricane Irma caused a considerable amount of damage in 2017 and it took some time before flight connections with St Maarten were restored.

Most visitor arrivals originated from the Caribbean islands Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten, the United States and the Netherlands. No major shifts occurred in the Saba tourism market in the period 2013–2019. Only the proportion of Canadians seems to have declined slightly.

Number of visitor arrivals by air (x 1 000)
Jaar Totaal
2013 9.7
2014 10.2
2015 9.7
2016 9.2
2017 8.2
2018 8.1
2019* 8.9
* preliminary data
Visitor arrivals by air, by citizenship (%)
Nationaliteit 2013 2016 2019*
Dutch (Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten) 23 23 28
American 26 29 25
Dutch (Europa) 20 18 18
Other European citizenships 11 12 12
Canadian 10 8 5
Colombian 1 2 2
Dominican 2 2 2
Other citizenships 6 6 7
* preliminary data

The two ferries in operation between Saba and St Maarten annually carried approximately 7 thousand passengers. In 2018 this number was lower, in 2019 it was higher. Saba residents also use these ferries.

Number of ferry passengers (x 1 000)
Jaar passagiers
2014 6,8
2015 6,8
2016 7,7
2017 7,0
2018 5,4
2019* 8,1
* preliminary data

Colophon

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x Publication prohibited (confidential figure)
Nil
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2019–2020 2018 to 2019 inclusive
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2019/’20 Crop year, financial year, school year, etc., beginning in 2019 and ending in 2020
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