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How is Inflation Impacting Saint Lucians? Survey on Inflation May Hold the Answer 📈

UVM lecturer Kevin Stapleton
UVM lecturer Kevin Stapleton

A group of students from the University of Vermont (UVM) recently teamed up with the Ministry of Commerce to pursue a series of projects on the island.

During their visit, the UVM team collaborated with various local organizations and also conducted a survey on inflation.

“We’re trying to get information to help policymakers better understand how Saint Lucians are being impacted by inflation,” UVM lecturer Kevin Stapleton said, noting that “the data is available if you want to know which products are more expensive (but) if you want to know how (inflation) is impacting individual families that’s not something that has been looked at very closely. We’re hoping to gather that information through surveys.”

According to Stapleton, students visited a number of communities throughout the island including Vieux Fort and Castries.

They also interviewed a number of individuals on camera to have more detailed conversations about inflation, Stapleton said, to put names and faces with the data they collected.

“We work with the Consumer Affairs Department each year and for 19 years now I think we’ve conducted a survey on a topic of their choosing. Last year we did (it) with Covid; in the past we’ve done it with bank fees, the minibus system, (etc.). It’s just an opportunity for people making decisions to do so with slightly better information,” Stapleton said.

As for whether students’ research ties into a broader picture at the university, Stapleton said that “inflation is a worldwide problem; this is an opportunity to… look at one area and how it’s impacting people knowing that the impacts, while they differ (from) country to country are universal.”

“People are worse off when prices rise and their income doesn’t…  trying to get an idea of what that actually means for households is helpful for us in Vermont as well. In the years that we’ve been coming down students gain tremendous insight into a lot of the stuff they’ve been learning. Students who come down are generally seniors in their final year of school and this (research) takes all of the things they’ve learned in academia and asks them to put it to work. What it means for us is giving students a real world opportunity to do some meaningful work,” he added.

Stapleton said the information would be transferred to the Consumer Affairs Department so that people can have access to it.

The UVM team arrived in Saint Lucia on January 3; students presented their findings at a closing ceremony at Bay Gardens Resort on January 12.

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