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Background Information about Niue

Author: IFAD


Economic Background
The MDG report (2012) estimates that the per capita income for Niue in 2011 was USD 10,358 and the GDP was USD 18 million in 2010. There are 1,611 people in this small coral atoll with slightly over 30% of the population living in Alofi, the capital. The SPC database (2012) shows that output grew by an average rate of 3.6% from 2001-2010 but the growth rate averaged to 2.3% since 2008. Population declined by an average rate of 2% per annum. This is a major concern as young graduates continually migrate to New Zealand which has had an adverse impact on the labour market and consequently on the growth rate of GDP. Of the remaining working age population, 80% is involved in formal and informal sectors. Government is the main employer employing over 50% of labour force. The major economic activities are tourism, fisheries and agriculture. Global HDI is not known but Abbott (2007) notes that Niue’s Pacific HDI was 0.741 placing Niue on the third place after the Cook Islands and Palau. Agriculture and industry account for a similar share of GDP (24% and 27%, respectively) while about 50% of GDP is based on service sector activities.

Baseline Poverty Analysis
The MDG report (2012) states that poverty is not a serious issue in Niue but finds that 13% of the population were below the BNPL. The share of the poorest quintile’s consumption was 7% and the depth of poverty was zero in 2002. There are no recent data or updated country studies available. The lacklustre economic performance has increased hardship but constant out-migration provides some relief, also through remittances. The analysis states that there is no clear distinction between urban and rural sectors. Some 20% of the household’s per-capita expenditure was in the lowest quintile of population. There were 45% of households in the lowest quintile headed by the females. In addition, an estimated 22% of adults and 29% children less than 15 years lived in these households. The population also benefits from free education and health services while most of the families grow their own food crops. In Niue, education is also compulsory for children between the ages of 5-16. Youth unemployment is lowered somewhat by out-migration. Data shows that they account for about 127% of population in 2010. The national Gini was 0.34 implying a high degree of income inequality.

The MDG report states that 76% of women are in non-agricultural employment (improved from 70% in 1995) and there is 15% representation of women in parliament in 2010. Gender parity persists in primary and secondary education - respective females to male enrolment ratios were 1.06 and 0.89.

Agriculture and Rural Development
Agriculture is based on shifting cultivation mostly for subsistence purposes. Its land area is 261 square km and Niue commands 390,000 km of the EEZ, World Bank (2012). Land ownership is customary, cannot be sold but leased for maximum of 60 years. However the quality of agricultural land is an important issue. Major agricultural production includes coconuts, root crops, fruits, honey, livestock (pig, poultry and beef). FAOSTAT (2012) shows that only coconut and oil production had increased in 2009 relative to 2004 (by about 20%) while taro fresh fruits, meat and milk all showed a decline in volumes in 2009. The largest decline of 40% was noted in milk production in 2009 when compared with 2004. Production data also show that in 2009, some 190,000 tonnes of fish were harvested. Constraints for agricultural development are numerous in Niue.  Niue’s strategic plan (2009-2013) aims to increase population, reduce dependency on aid and promote private sector development. Niue exports coconut products, fruits, honey, vanilla, root crops, footballs, stamps and handicrafts. Total exports amounted to USD 0.2 million while imports were valued at USD 7.85 million in 2004.

Investing in the Rural Poor
Niue: Investing in the Rural Poor, IFAD's Rural sector performance assessment (RSP).  This publication may be found here.

Rural Development Indicators
Composite data about Niue may be found here.

Language:  English (United Kingdom)
Development Themes: Agriculture Food Security & Nutrition
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