One in five people on Bonaire have difficulty making ends meet

BES ISLANDS – 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. The 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. This is evident from figures taken from The Caribbean Netherlands in numbers 2023, published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

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

The difficulties people experience are linked to their level of education. On St Eustatius,
people with a low education level were almost twice as likely to experience difficulties as
highly educated people; 40 and 20 percent, respectively.

On Bonaire, this was almost three times as much (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.

Not enough money for specific expenses

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
including meat, chicken or fish every other day (lowest on Bonaire, namely 10 percent) to
paying for unexpected necessary expenses (highest on St Eustatius at 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

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 share of people who did not have 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.

Concerns about the financial future
On St Eustatius, financial future is of great concern to nearly 60 percent of the
population. 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).

Publication – The Caribbean Netherlands in numbers 2023

Survey description – Omnibus survey

Relevant link:
Publication – The Caribbean Netherlands in Numbers 2023

Explanation: Concerns about the 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’.