JIS News

The level of poverty in Jamaica for 2007 was 9.9 per cent, a reduction of 4.4 percentage points over 2006.
This was disclosed by Senior Policy Analyst at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Christopher Smith, at the official launch of the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions 2007, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, on November 26.
Mr. Smith pointed out that all regions surveyed registered a decline in the prevalence of poverty. “We saw that other towns had the lowest prevalence of poverty of 4.0 per cent, followed by the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA), at 6.2 per cent, and rural areas, 15.3 per cent,” he noted.
“There seems to be the beginning of a trend, because for the fourth consecutive year, the rate of poverty in other towns came out below that of the KMA,” he added.
Mr. Smith explained that the poverty rates in 2007 were the lowest they have ever been, since the inception of the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions.
For the education sector, there was universal enrollment in 2007, at the primary and first cycle of secondary level education. Approximately 7 per cent of the 15 to 16 age cohorts were registered as being out of school. More boys than girls in the rural areas were out of school, and more boys than girls from the poorest quintile were recorded as being out of school.
“Less than 2 per cent of the poorest quintile was enrolled at the tertiary level, compared with over 20 per cent of the wealthiest quintile. For the 20-day reference period, we see that 72.9 per cent of students enrolled at the primary level attended for the full 20-day reference period, and 73.9 per-cent of those enrolled at the secondary level reported that they attended for the full 20-day reference period,” Mr. Smith informed.
He added that the KMA had the highest attendance rate of 80.6 per cent, followed by 75 per cent for other towns, with the rural areas having the lowest attendance rate of 67.3 per cent.
“The poorest quintile had an attendance rate of 61.5 per cent, the middle quintile, 70.5 per cent, and the wealthiest quintile, just over 89 per cent. Females were most likely to attend for the full reference period and we see an approximate six percentage points disparity in full attendance rate, when we disaggregate by sex,” Mr. Smith noted.
Some of the leading reasons given for not attending school, include money problems, illnesses, and rain. Approximately 70 per cent of students participated in the school feeding programme, with the traditional cooked lunch being the most popular choice.
For the Health sector, there was a 15.5 per cent report rate of persons experiencing some form of illness or injury during the reference period, with the rural areas accounting for the highest illness rate of 17.3 per cent. Recurring illnesses accounted for 51 per cent of all illnesses, a 5.4 percentage point increase over 2006.
As for the Housing sector, there was continued improvement in housing conditions, as measured by the housing quality index. This was recorded at 68.1 points in 2007, moving up from 60 points in 1997.
“The KMA and other towns registered increases in the housing quality index over 2006, while the rural areas recorded a decline. Just under 60 per cent of households owned the dwelling in which they live, and the highest level of home ownership was in the rural areas, at just 68 per cent,” Mr. Smith said.
He pointed out that there was general improvement in most of the indicators used to measure the standard of living.

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