| Daughters of Sysiphus |
When the low-income household survey data were analysed, expenditure patterns were examined in some depth whereas income levels were given very little attention. Studies of household income have proved notoriously unreliable in the Jamaican context, as documented by Miller and Stone ( 1985). It was recognized at a very early stage that the methodology required to determine income levels reliably was beyond the scope of the research project and that it would be better to accept this than to include information that might well be misleading. A focus was therefore placed on determining expenditure patterns including expenditure on savings.
It should be noted that the Jamaican dollar is tied to the United States dollar and at the time of the survey had a value of $J5.50 = $US1.00.
Of the households surveyed, 80 per cent had a total expenditure of less that $350 a week (equivalent to the average urban household income). However, the amount that different households spent varied, as did their choices as to what to spend it on. The needs of children played a particularly significant part in determining the expenditure patterns of female heads of household. This was particularly evident in the focus on expenditure related to food and education. Asset levels (which reflect past expenditure patterns and investments) varied between households as did choices as to what would be done should a windfall sum of money become available to them.