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Statistics, Development and Human Rights

the informal sector shows no statistically significant relationship (see Appendix 1).

The data are presented graphically in Figure 1, and there it will be seen that increases in informal sector activity are associated with increased poverty levels. The reason for this may be that as poverty levels increase, more individuals turn to these kinds of activities in search of some means of economic survival.

5.2 The Remittance Economy

Remittances from Jamaicans abroad can be regarded as the main or only source of the higher consumption levels. Very high levels of migration – external, internal and circulatory – have been traditional and longstanding features of the Jamaican society and culture. Since the emancipation of slavery, Jamaicans have moved in large numbers to Panama and other countries in Central America, Cuba, the United Kingdom and most recently to the United States and Canada [Conway, 1999-2000].  Invariably the migratory patterns have been dominated by the search for economic opportunity. Periods of economic decline and stagnation have usually been associated with sharp increases in emigration. It has been estimated that net migration from the Caribbean region during the period 1950 -1990 amounted to 5.6 million – representing some 16% of the region’s population in 1990. Of this 1.7 million occurred in the 1970s – a time of serious economic difficulty. Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Haiti normally account for the majority of the emigrating population. In Jamaica alone, net migration over the period was just under one million [ECLAC, 1998].

These high levels of emigration have been associated with substantial remittance flows – in cash, as well as in kind. Monies come in to purchase property for retirement, cash and consumer goods are sent to support families left behind, and funds may be used as capital in new and/or existing business ventures [ECLAC 1998; Chevannes and Ricketts 1997]. In Table 2 the volume of documented transfers is shown.

They are not as large as might have been expected given the large net migration figures; this is probably because the official figures are almost entirely based on remittances from farm and hotel workers who participate in government-sponsored programmes. Both the quantum and rate of growth are nonetheless striking – especially when compared with the value of other segments of the economic system. Over the 1990-97 period, these transfers leapt from US $130.8m to US $594.7m,

Montreux, 4. – 8. 9. 2000

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