Cuban Micro-economics

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Cuban Micro-economics

In my limited understanding of socialism, everyone is meant to be equal. Everyone pulls their weight and the government ensures that everyone is housed and fed. With that in mind, I couldn’t understand why people mobbed the tourists getting off the bus in Vinales, pushing their casa particular as the best. Or why doctors only get paid 40CUC (US$40) per month but the driver of the vintage car charged 50CUC for an hour drive. Did this money all go to the government?

Through numerous discussions with locals, I pieced together a rough view of how their lives work financially. The government takes most of what each person produces or earns—somewhere in the order of 90%–and lets them do them do what they like with the rest. One person wrote out the microeconomics of an average household for me. A family with two children, where Dad is an electrician and Mum is a nurse, has an income of about 50CUC per month. Utilities come to about 35CUC and a basic diet of beans and rice comes to about 17CUC, which leaves them short by 2CUC. When I suggested that cancelling the internet was the obvious solution, he pointed out that 15CUC was still not going to buy much in the way of vegetables and meat for 4 people for a month.

So both parents end up taking additional jobs, usually in some form of tourism, which takes them up to, say, 110CUC. It’s still a very basic standard of living.

This still doesn’t answer questions of house ownership or how people choose / are assigned careers or whether to live in the city or the country, but my trip to Cuba was cut short as I had my own experience of poverty and I was unable to ask all these questions. I did ask one country person whether Cuba was facing a similar problem to other countries where young people are flocking to the city. The response was a shoulder shrug. ‘Pueblo, campo egual.’ City / country same.

By |July 4th, 2018|Categories: Cuba|0 Comments

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