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  • Rs 3,500

    Extreme poverty concerns those families who live with less than Rs 3,500 per adult per month.

  • 1,2 %

    Extreme poverty is experienced by 1.2 % of the Mauritian population.

  • 33,600

    is the number of Mauritian families suffering from poverty.

  • Rs 3,200

    is how much is given out as allowances to poor families in debt.

Poverty in Mauritius

Mauritius is often cited for its major achievements in terms of economic growth and job creation; however, poverty remains a harsh reality for a large number of Mauritian families.

According to statistics available at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, it is estimated that 33,600 households live below the relative poverty line, in other words the 10% of the poorest Mauritians. That is to say, poverty affects 122,700 Mauritians.

These numbers are on the rise. In 1996, there were 23,800 households and 92,700 people living below the poverty line. Moreover, it has been found that for the past 15 years the degree of poverty of those families has increased while, at the same time, the material well-being of the population as a whole has improved. The economic growth model chosen by Mauritius has fueled a rise in inequality while extreme poverty is on the increase.

Extreme poverty 

Such extreme poverty, as defined by the World Bank, affects families living on less than $1.25 per adult per day (‘adult equivalent’). This equates to Rs 3500 per adult per month in Mauritius. Extreme poverty has kept on rising since the early 2000s, so that it affects 1.2% of the Mauritian population today, while in 2004 it was only around 0.4%. To date, the United Nations Development Programme is of the view that there is a real risk of Mauritian families sliding into extreme poverty.

Inequalities in poverty

There is no equality in poverty. It affects children most particularly. One in seven Mauritian children grows up in a poor family. The most vulnerable groups are as follows:

  • families with three or more children;
  • single-parent families, namely those where the head is a woman; 
  • families of divorced or separated parents; 
  • families whose parents themselves failed at school;
  • families in which an adult alone provides for another unmarried child.

It is estimated that the average monthly income of those poorest households is Rs.9800, that is one tenth of the average income of 10% of the most well-off Mauritian households. Within the poor families, Rs 8300 of this revenue is spent on consumer goods.

During recent years, debt has eroded the poorest households’ available income. It is estimated that one family out of five is repaying debts for an average amount of Rs 3200. Those families are also victims of employment, most particularly women, youths and poorly qualified individuals.

The social security programmes put in place by the Government of Mauritius have partly alleviated this state of poverty. Thus, Mauritians as a whole have access to free healthcare and education. Poor families whose monthly income is below Rs 6200 are getting an allowance. Moreover, students and senior citizens are exempted from paying public transport costs. It should also be noted that through public housing construction programmes, a large number of families have now become owners of their home. On the other hand, the ownership of long-lasting household goods has decreased.