Pitcairn Island Economic Review (2014)

Date created: 06 April 2020
This date indicates the date the dataset metadata was created on Pacific Data Hub.

Executive summary - Economic development is a function of the resources that are available – land, sea and human; and these combined with access to markets and governance capability determines economic outcomes. Land on Pitcairn is rugged and not suited to larger-scale commercial agriculture production. The sea provides fish for personal consumption, but large scale commercial fishing is not viable. Human resources are limited, a function of a small and aging population base. Pitcairn is extremely isolated, thus impacting access to markets and wider participation in the international economy. Pitcairn Islands has supported population levels up to 200 people living within their means, but over the last 30 years the resident population has been less than 60 people. The SDP promotes an ambitious 60 percent growth target for population (80 people by 2016), while the island’s more recent Immigration Policy (2013) is less ambitious focusing on maintaining the status quo of 50 persons over the next five years. With a virtually zero birth rate coupled with high out-migration and an aging population, it will be a challenge to maintain this status quo number. As the target of five immigrants as set out in the Immigration Policy has not been met in 2013, the PIC is already on the back foot. This means that the target for 2014 is now nine immigrants. A fundamental issue for Pitcairn Island is the small and declining numbers of the productive population. Within seven years, a third of the current productive population will have reached 65 years of age and become pensioners. The current Pitcairn Island dependency ratio (those under 18 and over 65 compared to the productive population) stands at 58 percent. The issue for Pitcairn Islands is that the ratio is trending in the wrong direction and by 2025 it will be over 100 percent. At this point there will be more pensioners than productive-age persons. This negatively impacts on economic production and health care requirements. The Pitcairn Island’s Strategic Development Plan (SDP) 2012-2016 is an aspirational document that is ambitious and not adequately prioritized or fully costed and does not account for implementation capacity and capability. The mapping of human resources and skills available versus required skills needs to be undertaken and a human resources plan for the SDP developed. The sequencing of actions and the implications of delays should be set out and carefully managed. Any successful implementation of SDP activities will require PIC to provide strong leadership and management. The recent Diaspora Survey identified three critical barriers to Diaspora returning to Pitcairn, specifically the issues around the history of widespread child sex abuse, acceptance of outsiders and new ideas, and island accessibility. All three barriers are interconnecting as their associated issues are complex and manifest in differing forms. 

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Topic Energy
  • Rob Solomon
  • Kirsty Burnett
Member countries Pitcairn Islands