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What is the Biggest Problem in Jamaica?
4 Major Societal Issues in Jamaica

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zoso_soldier_walking_savanna_la_mar.jfifWhat is the biggest problem in Jamaica?

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Jamaica, like any other country, has many issues. For visitors, Jamaica is truly a slice of paradise but those residing on the island, especially those born in less financially stable situations, may not always share these sentiments.

Here are what many consider to be Jamaicaโ€™s biggest problems.

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Corruption and a high level of violence and crime go hand in hand. In actuality, the research suggests that the world's most violent nations also tend to be the most corrupt. And even if accepting the obvious is difficult, we must. According to national Bluedot polls, 64% of us think the government is corrupt.

Though we frequently hear about police officers, we hardly ever hear about people who are being investigated for violating the Corruption Prevention Act.

On Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2020, where a score of zero is considered very corrupt and a score of 100 is considered very clean, Jamaica exhibited little progress, moving up from a score of 43 to 44.

With this slight improvement, Jamaica jumps five positions from 74th to 69th place out of 180 nations in the 2019 CPI ranking. Jamaica is still the fifth-most corrupt state in the Caribbean, after Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, despite a small change in its CPI score.


The truth is the Jamaica tourists are often exposed to isn't the one most of us experience often. White, sandy beaches and breathtaking sunsets are part of our everyday lives however, we are faced with a far more rugged landscape as well. For many years, the nation has grappled with poverty. The poverty rate has always fluctuated here.

In 2020, the World Bank assessed that the poverty rate in Jamaica had moved from 19% in the two years prior, to 23%. This was in part a product of the pandemic, however, even without those added factors, the poverty rate in Jamaica was still considerably high.

Although the contemporary effects of poverty are not as severe in Jamaica as, for example, in our neighbour Haiti, they nonetheless have a substantial impact on the lives of the people. It's interesting to note that one theory holds that a major contributor to poverty in Jamaica is the country's reliance on tourism as a major source of income.

In recent years, Jamaica's economy became heavily reliant on the service industry, which accounts for 60% of its GDP. Tourism is the nation's most valuable industry with between 2 million and 4 million tourists each year.

Unfortunately, the island's opulent resorts for tourists do not accurately reflect the realities of the nation and the 2.8 million people, many of whom live in poverty there. Jamaica's high unemployment rate exacerbates issues with crime, gangs and narcotics.

Crime Rate

Undoubtedly, crime is one of the most pervasive and damaging societal problems an island may experience, and we are not exempt from it. Remember that the term "crime" refers to a variety of violent acts, including murder, rape, theft, and assault, to mention a few. Criminal activity is a problem in Jamaica.

In truth, Jamaica's brand has been heavily promoted in the media for the wrong reasons due to the social problem of crime. From petty thievery to gang violence, crimes are perpetrated throughout the island.

The majority of these crimes, though, occur in the inner cities. While generally speaking, this is accurate, there are instances where several of these behaviours happen in different ways.

Right to Education

jamaican_basic_schooBasic School Children

Jamaica has made progress, but there are still numerous obstacles to overcome before it can give every child an equal chance to receive tertiary education at a reasonable cost.

Whereas secondary and higher education in Jamaica is fee-based and prohibitively expensive for many impoverished students, primary education is free. As a result, many Jamaican kids who perform well in primary school are unable to continue their education.

Children are unable to succeed in many educational settings due to a lack of general classroom supplies in addition to issues with access to education. Persons with physical and other challenges experience many struggles to access appropriate schools. Persons with special needs generally have a difficult time moving about independently.

If and when there are significant improvements in these areas, Jamaican people will then be able to see Jamaica as a piece of paradise in more ways than they usually do.

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References & Sources For What is the biggest problem in Jamaica?

  1. Children of Jamaica (2019) Humanium. Available at: (Accessed: November 16, 2022).
  2. Jamaica remains Caribbean's fifth most corrupt country - CPI report (2021) Lead Stories | Jamaica Gleaner. Available at: (Accessed: November 16, 2022).
  3. Jason Robinson: Jamaica's biggest problem is corruption, not crime! (2020) Commentary | Jamaica Gleaner. Available at: (Accessed: November 16, 2022).
  4. What are some social issues in Jamaica? (no date) My. Available at: (Accessed: November 16, 2022).

What is the biggest problem in Jamaica? | Written: November 16, 2022

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