Although Jamaicans relish their ubiquitous presence abroad, the country is starting to feel the effects of its citizens’ prolonged absence as fewer expats are returning home than in past decades.
Many Jamaicans left to take advantage of lucrative opportunities in countries like the U.S. and England with the intent to return later in life, but according to the government, not enough have actually come back for good. The Associated Press reports:
“For years, that was the goal of nearly all Jamaicans who left seeking work because of the poor wages and scarcity of opportunity at home. They returned at retirement to take advantage of the sunny Caribbean island's lower costs and comfortable climate — and at the same time they provide a significant source of foreign currency for the economy.
But to the dismay of the government, fewer and fewer Jamaicans are coming back from London, New York, Toronto and other cities that drew them away as young adults. Over the last 20 years, the annual number of "returning nationals" has dropped by more than half — down to slightly more than 1,000 in 2011, the most recent year for which official figures are available.
Some overseas Jamaicans are stuck in devalued homes because of the world economic crunch and find their Caribbean paradise is out of reach financially. Others are choosing to live in retirement communities in places like Florida that offer strong personal care services. Often they are put off by Jamaica's struggle with high rates of crime that were unimaginable when they left just as the island was shedding its status as a colonial outpost of Britain a half century ago.”
Read the full story here.
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(Photo: AP Photo/David McFadden)