Social Policies in Samoa

image of Social Policies in Samoa

The country case studies and thematic papers in this series examine social policy issues facing small states and the implications for economic development. They show how, despite their inherent vulnerability, some small states have been successful in improving their social indicators because of the complementary social and economic policies they have implemented.


Samoa is widely known as a role model in the Pacific region for its economic and social achievements since gaining independence in 1962. This indepth study traces the history of government policy and examines the fundamentals underpinning the country’s social development progress: the welfare state; social cohesion; participative democracy and the power of jurisdiction. It also examines how the fa’a Samoa, the Samoan culture, and securing external assistance enabled the country to build resilience in the face of a number of crises in the 1990s – including two cyclones and a taro blight.



Preindependence Economic and Social Development

In the run-up to independence in 1962 Samoa’s economy was almost totally dependent on agriculture, and particularly on subsistence agriculture. While the sector was the focus of economic strategies in terms of crop diversification, pest control and geological soil surveys, the government also prioritised other development strategies. These included the building and improvement of roads, bridges, water supplies and electric power. Most of these developments received significant funding from government budgetary allocations and external assistance.


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