Youth literacy (2008)
of the total population is unemployed (2007)
Youth unemployment (2007)
years is the life expectancy (2008)
infant mortality per 1,000 live births (2010)
is the population growth rate
Fiji is a small island country with a population of 0.824 million in 2007 and a population growth rate of 1.4 percent between 1975 and 2007. It is classified by the World Bank (2002) as an upper-middle income country with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in 2008 of around $4050. While since independence in 1970, Fiji implemented import substitution policies to stimulate economic growth, beginning in 1986, backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Fiji liberalized its economy. In doing so, Fiji has since followed an export-led growth based strategy for development. Despite these efforts though, Fiji’s economic growth has been weak and volatile, ranging from -8.4 percent to 10.4 percent, with nine years of negative growth. Three of the widely cited reasons for Fiji’s weak economic performance have been intermittent political instability, poor economic and financial management, and expiry of land leases since 1997, which have basically seen the decline of the sugar industry. The sugar industry has traditionally been regarded as the backbone of the economy in terms of employment and foreign exchange earnings. The decline of the industry has thus hurt Fiji’s economic and social development.
Post-independence Development Objective
Since independence to about the mid-1980s, Fiji’s economic policies, based on import-substitution led growth, were aimed at maximizing economic growth through boosting consumption. The failure of import-substitution based policies to foster sustained economic growth led to the IMF intervention in 1986. Hence, beginning in 1986, Fiji embarked on trade liberalization policies, which marked Fiji’s approach towards an export-led growth strategy for economic growth. Fiji’s welfare policies centered around two broad issues: reducing income inequality and poverty and achieving universal primary education. In development plans prior to the advent of the MDGs, Fiji’s development objectives were broadly in-line with reducing poverty, child mortality and gender inequality, achieving environmental sustainability, and improving the health and education status of its citizens. However, with the introduction of MDGs, Fiji has embraced a wide set of targets and indicators with respect to each of these broad goals.
Fiji’s key social development strategies in the post-independence era include:
• Creation of employment and income generating opportunities for people;
• Alleviation of poverty including more effective social welfare programmes;
• A more equitable distribution of national wealth and development opportunities to ensure improvements to living standards;
• The effective maintenance of law and order to secure the safety of citizens, their families, and their properties;
• Making education accessible to all;
• Making health services available to a greater cross-section of the society; and
• Increasing access to safe drinking water.
Source: Fiji MDGs Report 2010.