Social Policies in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

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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.


Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are two small states that have struggled to develop successful social policies since gaining independence. This final study in the series traces the history of social development in both countries, examining closely the factors that have hindered progress: the colonial legacy, poor economic development, high population growth, political instability, the lack of social cohesion, mismanagement of resources and natural disasters. The authors argue that for progress to continue both countries need to move away from a reliance on their traditional social structures and focus on political stability and economic growth.




The main objective of this paper is to trace the development of social policies in two underdeveloped South Pacific countries, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. In addition, it describes the nature of these policies. The paper discusses the countries’ development strategies and how these have been affected by external pressures and challenges. Chapter 1 provides a brief theoretical framework for social policy analysis. The subsequent discussion draws on this theoretical framework. Chapter 2 deals with the Solomon Islands and Chapter 3 discusses the situation in Vanuatu. Chapter 4 compares social development indicators in the two countries and briefly assesses their progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The last chapter provides some concluding comments. Finally, a postscript provides a brief review of more recent developments.


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