Dominicans emigrate from Puerto Rico because of poverty
The study shows significant progress in the educational level of Dominicans, according to experts. Archive
Santo Domingo, DR
The severe economic crisis affecting Puerto Rico has been the cause of an exodus of the Dominican population residing in that country, which went from 69,683 in 2010 to 58,352 in 2021, for a reduction of 16% in the last decade, according to research presented at the Santo Domingo Institute of Technology (INTEC).
This was revealed in the study “Quisqueya en Borinquen: A Socioeconomic Profile of the Dominican Population in Puerto Rico, 2023,” by the Dominican Studies Institute of the City University of New York (CUNY) conducted by researchers Ramona Hernández, director of the Institute; Francisco Rivera-Batiz, professor at Columbia University in New York, and Sidie Sisay, a researcher at the Institute.
The research shows that Puerto Rico’s economy stagnated from 2005 onward due to decades of mismanagement in public administration, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the Covid-19 pandemic, in contrast to the growth it experienced from 1985 to 2005.
Given the circumstances, 51.4% of Dominicans lived in households with incomes below the poverty level during the 2016 to 2020 period, compared to 44% corresponding to that country overall. In addition, the report indicates that, two decades earlier, poverty among the Dominican population was significantly lower than that of the general population and that, in the past decade, Dominicans residing in Puerto Rico showed an annual per capita income equal to or higher than that of the general population of that country.
“Dominicans migrated to Puerto Rico looking for better jobs and living conditions, and this worked for a number of years, but things have changed, and the economic situation has become much more difficult in the last decade,” said Hernández, co-author of the study and sociologist at the City College of CUNY.
According to the results of the study, the annual per capita income of Dominicans was US$11,245 on average during the 2016-2020 period, compared to US$13,519 among the general population of Puerto Rico during the same period.
Likewise, the findings show that the socioeconomic indicators of poverty and low wages, which were lower than the rest of the population in the neighboring country in the past, are now higher.
The situation in the neighboring country represents a crisis for families headed by separated or divorced women and single women with children, populations that, when added together, constitute close to one-third of the Dominican people. According to the report, on average, from 2016 to 2020, 62.3% of the Dominican population living in female-headed households were poor, compared to 51.4% of the Dominican population as a whole.
The study showed high poverty among female-headed households is a result not only of the economic gap that exists in general between the Dominican population and that of the rest of the country but also of the large wage and employment gap based on gender. “Unemployment among Dominican women is significantly higher than for men; and their wages are substantially lower. And this occurs despite the fact that Dominican women have a higher average level of formal education than men,” the study reflects.
As a consequence of high poverty among female-headed households, higher child and youth poverty results in 75.9% of the Dominican population aged 17 and under living in poverty on average from 2016 to 2020, almost 20 percentage points higher than the general population in Puerto Rico.
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