SEATTLE — A special French overseas territory, New Caledonia ranks among the least equal developed nations in the world. The country is deeply divided across socioeconomic, political and ethnic lines. Although mining exports to Australia, Singapore, China, Korea, France and Japan have made the nation wealthy, income disparity is widespread. To better understand this inequality, here are five facts about poverty in New Caledonia:
- In 2015, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in New Caledonia was $9 billion. In 2015, ferroalloy and nickel export earnings accounted for $1.48 billion. However, the nation faces a growing trade deficit that affects its development. Coupled with unemployment, an aging population, greater numbers of young families, educational imbalances, poor housing, improper healthcare and urbanization, poverty in New Caledonia has persisted.
- According to the central bank for Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, 17 percent of New Caledonian households, or 53,000 people, live below the poverty line. This demonstrates an income inequality figure 2.4 times greater than in France.
- The at-risk populations are urban residents, those under the age of 20 and large families. A total of 17,490 New Caledonia residents who live in poverty are under 14 years old.
- The poverty rate varies provincially due to differences in money, resources, costs of living and educational access. Inhabitants who live in the Loyalty Islands or northern province are four to six times more likely to live below the poverty line than those in the south.
- According to the 2025 Development Goals for New Caledonia publication, the incomes of the 20 percent wealthiest New Caledonians are, on average, 9.4 times higher than those of the poorest 20 percent.
Hospitality and tourism are emerging industries that have the potential to reduce the nation’s dependency on mineral exports and market prices. These job opportunities may improve the livelihoods of thousands of people throughout the archipelago and reduce the economy’s sensitivity to global fluctuations in ferroalloy and nickel demand. However, more work is needed to correct this issue and stabilize the archipelago.
– JG Federman