This Bulletin presents updated and revised statistics of St Helena’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), following on from the previous release of provisional estimates for 2014/15 in the Quarterly Statistical News Bulletin of October 2016. The statistics and indicators presented in this Bulletin can be downloaded in Excel format from the ‘GDP’ file on the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Gross Domestic Product

Gross Domestic Product is a key indicator of economic activity used around the world: it measures the total value of all the goods and services produced on St Helena during a year. Table 1 presents estimates of GDP and other key indicators. For 2017/18, total GDP (at market prices i.e. including customs duties) is estimated to be £42.4 million and total GDP per capita is estimated to be £9,220.

GDP for 2014/15 is now estimated to have been £40.2 million, an upwards revision of £6.7 million compared to the previous published provisional estimate of £33.5 million. The revision to the provisional 2014/15 estimates is due to improved estimates of the activity involved in constructing the new airport, the value of owner-occupied housing, and the use of government capital (i.e. depreciation). The revision reflects the difficulty of measuring GDP in a small economy such as St Helena; in particular the impact of large one-off activities (such as the construction of the airport) and the dependence of St Helena’s economy on aid flows from abroad mean that trends and levels of GDP and associated indicators should be used with great caution. In addition, while the new estimates are improved, there are still considerable uncertainties in some of the data sources used in their compilation.

To measure the ‘real’ change in the size of the economy, (i.e. accounting for price inflation), St Helena’s Retail Price Index (RPI) has been used to measure GDP in 2017/18 constant market prices. For 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2017/18 it is measured at £44.2 million, £46.4 million, and £43.2 million respectively. These estimates give a positive annual growth rate in the overall domestic economy for 2015/16 of 5.1% (when airport construction was underway), a larger negative annual growth rate for 2016/17 (-7.1%) following completion of the majority of airport construction, and a smaller negative annual growth rate in 2017/18 (-1.7%), during the period when scheduled airport operations were starting (Chart 1). Using this method to take account of inflation indicates that size of the economy on St Helena was slightly smaller in 2017/18 than it was in 2014/15.

Per capita Gross Domestic Product

The size of an economy, measured using GDP, is influenced by the number of people that live there – large countries will typically have larger economies than smaller ones. For example, China has the second highest GDP in the world (the United States has the highest), some $12.3 trillion in 2017. But it also has the highest population in the world, some 1.39 billion people in 2017. So to provide an estimate of the size of the economy that can be compared with other countries, per capita estimates are used: total GDP, divided by the size of the population. For 2017/18, St Helena’s GDP per capita is estimated to be £9,220, or $12,230.

Compared to other countries, the four countries immediately below St Helena in the global ranking (using 2017 estimates for other countries) are Costa Rica, American Samoa, The Maldives, and Romania; and the four countries immediately above St Helena in the ranking are Palau, Croatia, Poland and Hungary (Chart 2). The country with the highest published GDP per capita in in 2017 was Luxembourg; the country with the lowest was Burundi. The GDP per capita of the United Kingdom in 2017 was $39,720.

Please note that these estimates do not account for purchasing power of different currencies in different economies; further work would be needed to accurately establish the purchasing power of the St Helena pound compared to the rest of the world. It is also important not to compare this figure with estimates of average wages or incomes; GDP measures the combined incomes of both companies and individuals, and GDP per capita estimates are expressed as a ratio to the whole population, including those both economically active and inactive.

Note: St Helena is 2017/18 financial year; all other countries are 2017 calendar year. Data source for other countries: World Bank, World Development Indicators (http://data.worldbank.org).

Sectoral breakdown of GDP

The 2017/18 estimate of GDP has been compiled using the ‘Production’ approach, which is the most common method in countries around the world, but which has not been used on St Helena previously. This approach calculates GDP as the total of ‘Gross Value Added’ for each sector in the economy, illustrated in Chart 3; the contribution of each sector is recorded in 2017/18 basic prices (i.e. excluding taxes on production and customs duties). Government Services contributed the most (£18.5 million, or 50%) with Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing contributing the least. Wholesale and Retail Trade (including Motor Vehicle Repair and Transport) is the second largest sector, contributing around 19% of total Gross Value Added.

Gross National Income

An alternative measure to GDP is called Gross National Income (GNI). GDP is a measure of the total goods and services produced within the territory of St Helena, and GNI is a measure of the value received of the goods and services produced by St Helena’s residents, regardless of where they produce those goods or deliver those services. GNI is derived from GDP, and it should be noted that there are considerable weaknesses in the additional data sources needed to compute GNI; the estimates should therefore be used with caution, and considered to be indicative only.

Chart 4 shows the nominal levels (i.e. without inflation adjustment) of GDP and GNI per capita. Over the four years 2014/15 to 2017/18, the difference between the two has narrowed; there was a larger gap between the two during airport construction, largely due to the non-resident nature of Basil Read, the South African company contracted by the St Helena Government to build the airport.

Notes and Methodology

Revisions: Please note that all estimates published in this bulletin should be considered to be provisional and subject to future revision as additional data sources and clarifications become available (the development of St Helena’s National Accounts is an ongoing program). This bulletin presents revised estimates for 2014/15.

Approach: There are three basic methods of compiling total GDP: the expenditure, income, and production approaches. Prior to 2016, St Helena published estimates based on the expenditure approach, and in 2016 a figure for 2014/15 was published based on the income approach. This Bulletin presents new estimates for 2017/18 based on the production approach, and estimates for 2014/15 to 2016/17 based on the income approach. As far as practicable in a small economy with limited resources, the compilation methods used follow the international guidance published in the ‘2008 System of National Accounts’ by the United Nations.

GDP at basic prices: The income approach estimates at basic prices are derived as the sum of total compensation of employees, the gross operating surplus of companies and non-profit institutions, an estimate of government depreciation, the incomes of sole traders, and an estimate of the rental value derived by households from the owner-occupation of their homes. The production approach estimates at basic prices are derived as the sum of the gross value added of companies, government expenditure, plus an estimate of government depreciation, the incomes of sole traders, and an estimate of the rental value derived by households from the owner-occupation of their homes.

GDP at market prices: For both the production and income approaches, GDP at market prices is derived by adding total import taxes on products and taxes on production to total GDP at basic prices.

Inflation adjustment: Estimates are presented in both nominal and real terms (referred to this bulletin as constant 2017/18 prices). Estimates in nominal terms will change due to both the effect of price changes and because of growth in the size of the economy. Changes in the size of the economy can only be measured using estimates expressed in real terms. Real terms estimates have been calculated using inflation estimates derived from St Helena’s Retail Price Index. It should be noted that this is not the usual recommended method (which is to use a special inflation estimate known as a GDP deflator). This is because the detailed price data needed to calculate a GDP deflator is not available, and because the GDP deflator calculations require GDP estimates derived using the production method – and 2017/18 is the first year that this has been done.

Measurement issues: There are significant measurement difficulties in estimating GDP and related indicators for St Helena. In some areas there are very limited (or no) sources to estimate some GDP components. For 2017/18, an improvement was to obtain data directly from larger companies using a set of questions added to the 2018 Business Survey. Additionally, the recommended measurement framework and concepts are not designed for measuring GDP in small, aid-dependent economies. Estimates are very sensitive to certain recording or classification conventions, which, while appropriate for larger economies, may distort trends and levels in smaller countries. There are further measurement difficulties in calculating GNI; in particular there are very limited data sources to estimate the income received from abroad by resident individuals and companies, and the income transferred abroad by non-resident individuals and companies (for the purpose of the GNI estimates presented in this bulletin, it has been assumed that the net income received from abroad by resident individuals is similar in size to the net income transferred abroad by non-residents).

Per capita estimates: For calculating per capita estimates of GDP and GNI, the population total used is the average of the end of month population estimates for the period, as published on the St Helena Government website.

Currency conversion: For converting from St Helena pounds (£) to United States dollars ($), the average daily spot rates published by the Bank of England have been used.

Data sources: The primary sources that have been used to compile GDP and related measures include the 2018 Business Survey, the 2017/18 Income Tax database, published company accounts, and population estimates published by the Statistics Office. Thanks are extended to all the companies and businesses that responded to the Business Survey, and to the Income Tax Office for their cooperation and help in using the data from tax returns for this purpose.

Technical advice and support: Compiling estimates of Gross Domestic Product and related National Accounts is a highly complex and specialised task which would not have been possible without technical advice and support to the St Helena Statistics Office from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the United Kingdom. Thanks are especially due to Jim O’Donoghue of the ONS Methodology Advisory Service for his expertise and patience.

Questions or comments?

Please get in touch: we are Neil Fantom, Statistical Commissioner, Justine Joshua and Stuart Moors, Senior Statistical Assistants, and Bertina Benjamin, Statistics Assistant. You can find us in person at the Statistics Office on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown, at the back of the main courtyard. You can also contact us by telephone: our direct line is 22138 or via the Castle switchboard on 22470. If calling from overseas, the international dialling code for St Helena is +290. Our general office e-mail address is statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, or you can email team members directly (the format is firstname.lastname@sainthelena.gov.sh).

This bulletin includes estimates of the latest annual price inflation rates for the first quarter of 2019, calculated from the Retail Price Index (RPI). The data released in this Bulletin, including the RPI itself, can be downloaded from the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Average annual current inflation rate

The latest rate of annual price inflation is estimated to be 4.1%, between the first quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2018. This is a 0.6 percentage point decrease from the rate in the previous quarter (Q4, 2018), when the annual price inflation rate was measured at 4.7% (see Chart 1).

Annual inflation rates of RPI categories

Compared to a year ago, average prices in all categories increased, except ‘Household Goods and Services’, which decreased slightly on average. On an annual basis, prices in the ‘Communication’ category saw the highest increase, up by 10.7% compared to a year ago because of the increase in the television and telephone tariffs that occurred during 2018. The category with the lowest annual rate was ‘Household goods and services’, where prices fell slightly, on average by 0.7%.

What went up and what went down?

Each quarter, the prices of some goods and services increase, some prices remain unchanged, and – less frequently – some prices fall. There are over 200 individual products and services in the RPI ‘shopping basket’, and compared to the previous quarter, this quarter around half of them went up in price, about 40% of them were unchanged in price, and the price of around 10% of items fell.

Prices of imported goods are affected by price inflation in the country of purchase (in St Helena’s case, this is usually either South Africa or the United Kingdom), the exchange rate of the St Helena pound compared to the South African Rand (if the pound gets stronger against the Rand, prices of South Africa goods in pounds will get cheaper), and other costs involved in importing goods, including freight rates and import taxes.

In the United Kingdom, price inflation is relatively low at 1.9% in February 2018, and in South Africa inflation in February was similar to St Helena, at 4.1%. Over the last year, the St Helena pound has strengthened considerably against the South African Rand; in February 2018, a St Helena pound bought 16.15 Rands on average, but in February 2019, the St Helena pound was worth 18.01 Rands – an 11.5% increase. This has the effect of making South African goods cheaper, offsetting some of the increases that may occur for other reasons (such as increasing freight rates).

Chart 3 shows the quarterly change in average prices of items in each category measured by the RPI; this is the percentage change in prices seen in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the last quarter of 2018 i.e. the change over a three-month period. ‘Alcohol and Tobacco’ and ‘Food’ were the two categories with the highest average price increase over the quarter; food products which increased in price included potatoes, cooking oil, pasta and porridge oats, with small decreases in price observed in a few items, including some milk products and rice. The ‘Transport’ category increased by just over 0.5%, which includes the 3.7% increase in the price of diesel fuel. There were no price changes at all observed in the ‘Communications’ category; prices of internet broadband packages and mobile phone packages were increased on 1 April 2019, which will be reflected in the inflation rates for Quarter 2 2019 (i.e. in the next statistical release). The price of household electricity was unchanged, but there was a small decrease in the price of bottled gas which had a small impact on the ‘household energy’ component.

What is price inflation?

Price inflation is the change in the average prices of goods and services over time. The rate of price inflation is calculated from the change in the Retail Price Index (RPI), which is the official measure of the average change in the prices of goods and services paid by consumers. The RPI is estimated each quarter, or once every three months, and the rate of price inflation is usually quoted on an annual basis; that is, comparing price changes over a twelve month period. Prices and the RPI tend to go up, but they can occasionally go down – which is price deflation.

Why do we measure inflation?

An accurate measure of price inflation helps understand the extent and nature of the impact of price changes on the government, businesses, households and individuals.

How is the RPI calculated?

The basis for the RPI is the average weekly cost of goods and services purchased by households on St Helena, sometimes called the ‘shopping basket’. Items which households purchase more of, such as food, have the biggest share of the RPI basket. The current RPI uses a basket from the latest Household Expenditure Survey in 2017; prices of the items in the basket are collected every quarter, and the price of the total basket is compared to the price in the baseline period, the first quarter of 2018. By convention, the value of the basket in the baseline period is scaled to 100, and the RPI values are quoted in relation to that baseline. For example, an RPI value of 120 means that average prices have increased by 20 per cent compared to those recorded in the baseline period.

What happens when items are not available?

If an item of the ‘basket’ is not available then either the previous price will be carried forward from the previous quarter, or a suitable substitute item will be identified and an adjustment calculation made. Care is taken to ensure that this substitute item represents the item category and that it does not introduce error to the measurement of the RPI. An important principle is that price changes should reflect actual price increases, and not changes in the quality of items.

Where can I get the data?

For detailed tables of the RPI and annual inflation rates from 1994 onwards, please visit: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data and download the ‘inflation’ data file. Other datasets, bulletins and reports are also available on our website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics.

Have more questions or comments?

Please get in touch: we are Neil Fantom, Statistical Commissioner, Stuart Moors and Justine Joshua, Senior Statistical Assistants, and Bertina Benjamin, Statistical Assistant. You can find us in person at the Statistics Office on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown, at the back of the main courtyard. You can also contact us by telephone: our direct line is 22138 or via the Castle switchboard on 22470. If calling from overseas, the international dialling code for St Helena is +290. Our general office e-mail address is statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, or you can email team members directly (the format is firstname.lastname@sainthelena.gov.sh).

Several statistical updates have been released on March 29, 2019 as follows:

Benefits, up to February 2019

Exchange rates, up to February 2019

External Trade, up to Quarter 4 2018

Additional statistical series and indicators are available at  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the statistics reports and publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

This bulletin includes updated demographic indicators including total population, arrivals, departures, births, deaths, and life expectancy.

Three primary sources have been used to compile this bulletin: population censuses (from 1978, 1987, 1998, 2008 and 2016); immigration records collected by the Immigration Office of the Police Directorate, and records of births and deaths collected by the Customer Service Centre at the Post Office. A full set of statistics and indicators can be downloaded in Excel format from the ‘Population’ file on the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Total population

Estimates of the total population are calculated by combining the number of arrivals and departures and the number of births and deaths with the estimated total population from the population censuses. At the end of February 2019 the number of St Helenians on St Helena was estimated to be 4,332, an increase of 167 compared to February of the previous year. The total population on St Helena (residents and temporary visitors) was estimated to be 4,680 at the end of February 2019, around the same as the previous February when the estimate was 4,691.

The marked recent increase in St Helenians is due to both the seasonal pattern (St Helenians living abroad tend to visit family and friends around the Christmas period in December and January), and the increased capacity of scheduled airplane arrivals following the introduction of a seasonal mid-week service from Johannesburg.

Arrivals and departures

The number of people arriving to and departing from St Helena (excluding day visitors from cruise ships) has been steadily increasing since 2010 (Chart 2). In the earlier part of the decade, this was due to the construction activity as the new airport was built, and lately this is due to the start of the regular scheduled air service towards the end of 2017.

In most years since 2010, arrivals have exceeded departures, especially between 2012 and 2014 when the airport was being constructed (Chart 3). This in turn has led to the increase in the total population seen in Chart 1. In 2017, the overlap of the start of scheduled air services and the last voyage of the RMS St Helena led to unusually high arrivals in November and December.

Following the completion of the airport, most people staying for more than one night on St Helena arrive by air, with a smaller number arriving by sea, mostly by yacht (Chart 4). In 2018, 5,030 people arrived on St Helena, excluding day visitors on cruise ships. Until 2018, most arrivals by sea were by ship on the RMS St Helena; 2018 saw 3,833 people arrive by air, more than arrived by the RMS St Helena in any previous year.

Almost half of all people arriving to St Helena in 2018 did so for a leisure-related purpose; they were either tourists (the largest group) or St Helenians living abroad returning for a holiday to see family and friends (Chart 5). Business arrivals, which includes people and their families arriving for both short- and long-term assignments, and returning residents made up just over a third of all arrivals.

There is current interest in the number of people arriving for leisure purposes; in the regular statistics published by the Statistics Office, these are classed into two groups: St Helenians on holiday, typically visiting family and friends, and other (non-St Helenian) tourists.

Chart 6 shows the trend in leisure arrivals for the last nine years for leisure arrivals either by the RMS St Helena or by air. The start of scheduled air operations in 2017 resulted in a large increase in leisure arrivals in both groups. Chart 7 illustrates the trend for non-St Helenian tourists only; in 2018, some 991 non-St Helenian tourists arrived by air, substantially more than arrived by the RMS St Helena in any of the previous eight years.

Chart 8 illustrates the monthly trend in non-St Helenian tourist arrivals by RMS St Helena or air. The trend is seasonal, with lower arrival numbers during St Helena’s cooler months around July and August, and higher numbers around the warmer months of December, January and February. Recent tourist arrivals by air have also been higher than in previous months; the total for February 2019 was 193, higher than the previous highest monthly total by air of 179 in December 2018. The number of tourist arrivals was very high in January 2018, when the last voyages of the RMS St Helena took place: tourist arrivals on the RMS were 176, and tourist arrivals by air were 132.

Arrivals by St Helenians visiting family and friends are also highly seasonal (Chart 9); the spikes represent arrivals in November or December each year, in time for the Christmas holidays. St Helenians living abroad have taken advantage of the air service: in December 2018, 336 St Helenians arrived to visit family and friends; the highest monthly total prior to that since 2010 was 213 in December 2013.

Each year, significant numbers of people leave St Helena either to find employment overseas, or to emigrate. In any of the last nine years, the lowest number of people leaving for employment or emigration was 641 in 2010 (Chart 10). This compares with 749 people leaving for these reasons in 2018, an increase compared to 2017, and a higher number than any of the previous five years – though not as high as 2012, when 786 people left St Helena for employment or emigration.

Births and deaths

There were 26 births in 2018, half the number of deaths (52), and the lowest number of births in a year since at least the year 2000 (see Chart 11). The number of girls born in 2018 (15) was higher than boys (11), but over time there is an even split. For example, since 2000, 348 girls and 356 boys were born.

In 2018 there were 52 deaths, 20 female and 32 male. There have been a higher number of male deaths than female deaths in each of the last seven years, and since 2000 there have been a higher number of female deaths in only four years (Chart 12). Overall, since 2000, 98 more males have died (523 in total) than females (425 in total).

Chart 13 shows the net increase or decrease in the population due to births and deaths. Since 2000, the number of births has exceeded the number of deaths in only two years; since 2010, the number of deaths has exceeded the number of births by at least ten. This change in pattern is likely partly attributable to the departure of women of child-bearing age following the change in British citizenship laws in 2002.

To help understand the patterns of births and deaths, the Statistics Office calculates crude birth and death rates, which are the number of births and deaths each year adjusted for the size of the total population. Because of the small number of births and deaths on St Helena, small fluctuations in numbers can cause sharp changes in these rates, so five-year averages are used to minimise this risk. Chart 14 shows the birth and death rate: the birth rate has been fairly stable at around nine births per thousand population, but since 2004 the death rate has climbed slightly and then fallen recently.

Life expectancy

The Statistics Office has recently updated its life expectancy estimates using the number of deaths for 2017 and 2018, and the 2016 population estimates from the Census. Life expectancy is the average number of years a person has left to live, assuming that person is subject to observed death rates. It is a useful statistic to calculate, especially life expectancy at birth, since it is used as a general demographic indicator and often forms the basis for comparisons of living conditions between countries. Annual age-specific death rates have been calculated using averages over ten-year intervals to reduce the impact of the natural variability in the small numbers of deaths (so, for example, 2018 uses deaths from 2009 to 2018). They also use estimates of population groups interpolated between population censuses, since age-group specific totals are not currently estimated. The variability in the estimates between years shown in Chart 15 is likely to be caused by these data limitations, rather than any sudden changes to underlying life expectancies and risk factors. For this reason, the simple linear trend is also shown, and the smoothed estimates are included in the data file.

The latest 2018 estimate of life expectancy from Chart 15 is around 77 years; countries with similar rates of life expectancy include Argentina, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, the Maldives, and French Polynesia. The UK has a higher life expectancy of around 81, and the USA is around 79 (the highest life expectancy in the world is 84 – Japan and Hong Kong). In common with the rest of the world, on St Helena women are expected to outlive men on average.

Typically, overall life expectancy increases slightly as a person ages – even though the expected remaining years of life decreases. For example, at birth, a person may be expected to live to 77, but if that person lives to 50, they may be expected to live to 80. Chart 16 tries to illustrate this; the horizontal axis shows the age of a person, and the vertical axis shows the number of expected remaining years of life having reached that age. So, a person of 50 years is expected, on average, to live another 30 years. To simplify the chart, males and females have been combined, but at every age women have a higher life expectancy than men.

Definitions and methodology

The classification of arrivals and departures into purpose of visit or departure is based on the declarations made to Immigration Officers. Tourism/holiday includes short-term visitors or departures (i.e. less than six months) for tourism or holiday purposes, and it includes St Helenians visiting short-term to see family and friends, both those that live permanently abroad and those who are away for a period of overseas employment. Day visitors arriving on cruise ships are not included in either arrivals or departures. Business and employment includes short-term and long-term arrivals who arrive for work purposes, including those employed by the St Helena Government on contract (and their families). Returning residents are people who are returning to their normal place of residence (for arrivals, this excludes those returning for the purpose of business or employment). It also includes people returning permanently from periods of overseas employment. Transit includes those for whom St Helena is not their final destination; it includes most arrivals by yacht and any people transiting to or from a ship via air.

Three categories of the total population are used. The on-Island population is an estimate of the total number of people on St Helena at the end of the given period (this is sometimes also referred to as the ‘de facto’ population). The resident population is an estimate of the total number of people living on St Helena (i.e. excluding any short-term visitors), regardless of their nationality. The on-Island St Helenian population is an estimate of the total number of St Helenians on the Island, regardless of their residence status.

Crude birth and death rates use five year averages of births and deaths, and five year averages of the estimated total mid-year on-Island population (at any year t, the years used for the averages are t-4, t-3, t-2, t-1, and t). Life expectancies are calculated using an ‘abridged’ life table with age groups 0-1, 1-4, 5-9, 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, 80-89, and an open-ended interval 90 years and above. The population totals used in the life tables are based on the St Helenian resident population at each census, with inter-census years based on simple interpolation for each age group. 2017 and 2018 use the latest published estimates of the on-island St Helenian population, with the same age-group patterns as 2016. Age-specific death rates are estimated using observed deaths for the previous ten years. Crude annual estimates and ‘smoothed’ estimates using a simple linear regression model have been calculated; data limitations and the small size of the St Helena population means that crude estimates are subject to year-on-year variability which may not reflect the underlying trend.

Data on Population, including new series on weekday and weekend air arrivals and business air arrivals by short and long term entry have been released on March 20, 2019: Population

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Data on Population, including total population and arrivals and departures up to February 2019 have been released on March 18, 2019: Population.

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Several statistical updates have been released on February 19, 2019 as follows:

Benefits up to January 2019

Exchange rates up to January 2019

Population up to January 2019

Ascension Population up to Quarter 4 2018

Additional statistical series and indicators are available at  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the statistics reports and publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

A statistical bulletin on aid to St Helena has been released on January 25, 2019, together with an accompanying data file. Data cover the range 1960 to 2017, and the release is an update to table 1.2 of the previous Statistical Yearbook.

Additional statistical series and indicators are available at  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the statistics reports and publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Several statistical updates have been released on January 18, 2019 as follows:

Additional statistical series and indicators are available at  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the statistics reports and publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

This bulletin includes estimates of the latest annual price inflation rates for the fourth quarter of 2018, calculated from the Retail Price Index (RPI). The data released in this Bulletin, including the RPI itself, can be downloaded from the Statistics Data page.

Average current inflation rate

The latest rate of annual price inflation is estimated to be 4.7%, between the fourth quarter of 2018 and the fourth quarter of 2017. This is a 0.6 percentage point increase from the previous quarter, when the annual price inflation rate was measured at 4.1% (Chart 1).

Contributing factors

This quarter saw price changes in about a third of the items in the average household ‘shopping basket’ used to compute the Retail Price Index. Notable increases include the price of food (especially bread), road traffic licences, and television subscriptions, which all have relatively high weights (or quantities) in the basket.

External factors play a significant role in price changes on St Helena. These include exchange rates, freight and shipping costs, and price increases in goods purchased in the United Kingdom and South Africa. In November 2018, annual inflation was measured at 5.2% in South Africa, an increase from 4.9% in August 2018. A compounding factor is the relatively low value of the UK pound caused by the Brexit process, but a mitigating factor is that UK annual inflation fell slightly compared to the previous quarter, to 2.3%.

Inflation rates of RPI categories

All categories experienced positive inflation during Quarter 4 2018 (in other words, the average prices in each category increased, compared to a year ago). ‘Communications’ remain the category with the highest annual inflation, 10.4% currently compared to 10.8% the previous quarter; this is mostly the result of the increase in telephone tariffs from Q3 2018. Tariff increases in both government and private sector service fees also resulted in increased inflation within the ‘Miscellaneous goods and services’ and ‘Transport’ categories. The ‘Food’ category saw a two percentage point increase between quarters 3 and 4 2018, the combined effect of increases in highly weighted items such as local bread and price increases in other food items. The average price of food, as measured by the representative items collected in the shopping basket, has increased by almost 5% compared to this point last year.

As the price of domestic electricity has remained static, the ‘Household Energy’ expenditure category has the lowest annual inflation rate at 1.3%. The annual price increase in the ‘Clothing’ and ‘Housing’ categories also fell, to 2.3% and 2.7% respectively.

Note: category weights are shown in brackets.

Average inflation for 2018

The average annual inflation for 2018 was 3.8%, calculated as the average of the rates for the four quarters that make up the 2018 calendar year. This is a lower rate than last year, when the average annual rate was measured at 5.1%, however it is still higher than the four previous years (2013-2016).

Using the average annual inflation rate may be more useful for some purposes, since it estimates the inflation rates experienced over the entire year – the annual rates measured each quarter may be more volatile.

What is price inflation?

Price inflation is the change in the average prices of goods and services over time. The rate of price inflation is calculated from the change in the Retail Price Index (RPI), which is the official measure of the average change in the prices of goods and services paid by consumers. The RPI is estimated each quarter, or once every three months, and the rate of price inflation is usually quoted on an annual basis; that is, comparing price changes over a twelve month period. Prices and the RPI tend to go up, but they can occasionally go down – which is price deflation.

Why do we measure inflation?

An accurate measure of price inflation helps understand the extent and nature of the impact of price changes on the government, businesses, households and individuals.

How is the RPI calculated?

The basis for the RPI is the average weekly cost of goods and services purchased by households on St Helena, sometimes called the ‘shopping basket’. Items which households purchase more of, such as food, have the biggest share of the RPI basket. The current RPI uses a basket from the latest Household Expenditure Survey in 2017; prices of the items in the basket are collected every quarter, and the price of the total basket is compared to the price in the baseline period, the first quarter of 2018. By convention, the value of the basket in the baseline period is scaled to 100, and the RPI values are quoted in relation to that baseline. For example, an RPI value of 120 means that average prices have increased by 20 per cent compared to those recorded in the baseline period.

Where can I get the data?

For detailed tables of the RPI and annual inflation rates from 1994 onwards, please visit the Statistics Data page and download the ‘inflation’ data file. Other datasets, bulletins and reports are also available on our home page.