Poverty and inequality in Maldives 2022

In the past two decades, Maldives has achieved remarkable economic progress and reductions in poverty. However, the country faces high exposure to global risks including an . existential threat of rising sea levels. A unique feature of Maldives is the economic enclaves that encourage industry and international tourism. The general population of the Maldives lives and works in administrative islands. Dedicated industrial islands are earmarked for specific economic activities such as large and small industries, agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture. Despite universal access to basic healthcare and education, the key welfare challenge in Maldives remains the socio-economic disparity between Male’ and atolls. In this context, this poverty assessment uses the 2019-2020 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) to update welfare estimates for the country as well as for each atoll; it also considers three separate phone surveys to understand key demographics affected by the pandemic. Chapter 2 of this report considers a selection of monetary and non-monetary indicators which typically correlate well with poverty and are comparable between HIES 2019 and the previous survey (HIES 2016) to understand if and why the disparity between atolls and Male’ has changed. Chapter 3 analyzes recent trends in education and labor force participation, especially among youth, to understand the linkages between higher education and employability, two key correlates of welfare. Chapter 4 takes into account more recent implications on welfare by leveraging two phone surveys to characterize groups of Maldivians that have faced severe economic impacts from Coronavirus (COVID-19).