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Statistics, Development and Human Rights

Doubts may similarly be raised about the extent to which the apparent improvement in consumption levels has benefited education and human capital development. Here again the picture would at first appear rosy: school enrollment figures have increased and are now well in excess of 95% at primary and secondary levels. But a closer and more detailed examination of other trends is called for. First, there is now a fair amount of evidence that the real problem in the education system is the quality rather than the quantity of the educational product  offered [Miller 1999; Craig 1996; McIntyre 1990]. Second, the SLC data have also shown that

more than one-quarter of the students were absent for more than one-quarter of the reference period (20 days). In some regions this figure was as high as 40%; and

Not only is “money problems” the main reason given ( by two-thirds of those responding) for non-attendance, but the proportion giving this reason rose by  28% over the 1978-98 period alone. In 1990 those giving this reason stood at 18%.

Th percentage share of education in per capita consumption (constant prices) actually fell between 1990 and 1997, and in 1998 it was virtually the same as that in 1990.

8. The Expenditure of Remittances: Who or what benefits?

The central question remains: where are the inflows from remittances being expended? Given the declining economy, the declining numbers in the informal sector, and the unchanging unemployment levels, it seems reasonable to conclude that productive growth has not been a significant consequence. The limited contributions to economic growth and development may also be deduced from the recent findings by Chevannes and Ricketts that contributions to start-up business capital from this source seldom exceed US$3,000. Although expenditures on imports have grown from US $1,856.9m in 1989 to US $2,996.9m in 1998 (an average annual rate of 5.4%) over the period, this is smaller than might be anticipated if this were where the monies were being spent. Finally, the preceding examination of the situation in the health and educational sectors indicate that these do not appear to be major beneficiaries either.

This last conclusion is further supported by an examination of the changing expenditure patterns. The data are presented in Table 5 below. It will be seen that  ‘Transportation’, and ‘Housing and Household Operational Expenses’ have been the areas in which there have been the greatest increases. Some of this  could be explained by sharply rising transportation, housing,  and utility costs, but  a real question would have to be: to what extent might the higher levels of expenditure on housing represent a real rise in housing conditions and the material standard of living?

Table 5 - percentage change in group expenditure in 1998 compared with 1990 at constant 1990 prices

group

% change

Food and Beverages

 +17.1

Fuel and Household Supplies

  -15.6

Housing and Household Operational Expenses

-116.3

Durable Goods

  -16.6

Personal Care

     -2.9

Health Care

 +42.7

Clothing and Footwear

  -17.2

Transportation

+133.1

Education and recreation

 +57.8

Montreux, 4. – 8. 9. 2000

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