A recent video by the Guardian, 'It's not fair': why Havana's taxi drviers vastly out-earn doctors looks at the difference between public sector workers and the privately employed in Cuba. The video says that the private industry (and tourism in particular) pays much better than the state, which I've heard many times before, but makes some pretty extreme claims, e.g. at the 4m11s mark:

A taxi driver can now make a doctor's monthly salary (about USD$50) in just one hour.

It explains that:

Cuba's private sector reaped the benefits [of improved relations with the USA], with private workers earning far more than state employees.

It's also suggested this is partly due to the two different currencies in Cuba, and that the difference in value (CUC being worth 24 times more than CUP) directly translates into a severe disadvantage for the public sector workers.

This doesn't seem reasonable: If public sector workers are paid in CUP, why are their salaries not in a range that accurately reflects the 24-times-weaker factor? If they really are paid abysmally low wages why are they staying in their jobs? Do they get food stamps etc, or are they even forced to stay in the public sector?

Do taxi drivers often get paid the equivalent of doctor's salary in an hour?

  • 7
    Question: Who do you tip when you visit Cuba - your driver, or your doctor?
    – T. Sar
    Dec 3 '19 at 13:17
  • 3
    Anecdote. We stayed at a resort in Cuba a few years ago, and typically tipped the porters etc. US$1. Someone in the know told us that at that rate they were earning far more than Cuban doctors were. Someone else, even more in the know, then said that half the porters were doctors. They did this side-job in order to earn enough to afford to be a doctor. Dec 4 '19 at 16:47
  • Own experience: We paid 60CUC for 1h in an oldtimer in Havanna. This was quite a normal price, and there were almost no locals using those taxis. Also keep in mind, fuel is 1CUC/liter, and compare that to the milage of those cars... The education system was excellent till now, but our guide said that many teachers now quit their job to work in tourism sector, which is booming since some years. And it's not improved relations with the US (did it improve?), it's growth in tourism that causes people to earn a one day wage in an hour.
    – sweber
    Dec 13 '19 at 12:50
  • I appreciate the anecdotes and I don't doubt there's a lot of money to be made from wealthy tourists. My question is how essential other sectors of such an economy are still functioning and/or why the state can't redistribute some of the tourism revenues to other workers (how do other economies do it?) Dec 15 '19 at 16:35
  • The question in the title is "Can a Cuban taxi driver make a doctor's monthly salary in just one hour?", while the last sentence of the question reads "Do taxi drivers often get paid the equivalent of doctor's salary in an hour?" Writers of children's books can make over $1B, but that doesn't mean they often do so. Something similar is probably true here.
    – user17967
    May 29 '20 at 3:19

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