The Dominican Republic is an agro-industrial country with the rapidly growing economy. In terms of economic growth, the country occupies one of the first places in Latin America. Tourism is a leading source of foreign exchange earnings. The spheres of telecommunications, free trade zone and manufacturing are the most important sectors, although agriculture still occupies a large part of the country’s economy. After a decade of almost zero growth in the 80s, there is a boom of the Dominican economy with the growth of economic indicators by 7.7% per year on average. Despite the fact that the gross domestic product has tripled in the last decade, 70% of the population suffers from poverty and unemployment (Phillips and Gritzne 70). However, the government, along with foreign aid, seeks to improve the economic situation of the country.
Economy of the Country
The Dominican Republic was discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus. Nowadays, the country is a native land to a great number of indigenous peoples. The Dominican Republic has a population of about 10 million people. They are people from Asia, Africa, Syria, and Europe. The biggest cities are Santiago de los Caballeros and Santo Domingo. There are about 50% of young people under the age of 20 years. The average life expectancy is about 74 years (Jaramillo and Sancak 8).
The Dominican Republic is a country with a flourishing economy. Economic growth is the highest in Latin America. “The rapid recovery of the Dominican Republic’s economy contrasts with other countries in the Caribbean and Central America, which are experiencing much less growth” (International Monetary Fund 17). The economic development in the Dominican Republic was largely associated with the adoption of sane macroeconomic policies and larger openness to foreign investments. “The Dominican Republic had favorable growth trends between 1960 and 2000, largely fueled by productivity gains and capital accumulation” (Jaramillo and Sancak 10). The growth turned negative in 2003 (-0.4%) due to the effects of major bank fraud and lower demand in the United States for products of Dominican producers. The administration of President Mejia was unable to stop the decline of economic indicators.
In January 2005, under the new president Leonel Fernandez, the country received the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund in the field of tax legislation. In 2003-2004, Dominican peso fell to historically low levels in the currency markets. Nevertheless, it significantly strengthened after the election of President Leonel Fernandez. The inflation rate fell to 9% per year. Fernandez’ administration efforts led to the improvement of the economic situation. Nevertheless, it happened not in all sectors. The objectives of reforms in the energy sector and the financial markets were not achieved. Statistical data of the Central Bank show 10.8% growth in 2006 with 5.0% inflation. The Central Bank considers that the economy grew by 7.9% in the first six months of 2007 with an inflation rate of 5.9% (Phillips and Gritzne 71-72). “In 2008, the country’s GDP was estimated to have been about $ 77 billion” (Phillips and Gritzne 71). In 2013, the volume of GDP was $ 61.16 billion. The growth rate in 2013 was 4.6%. The country’s share in the world economy is 0.07%. The unemployment rate is 17%. In 2014, inflation reached 3% (The Dominican Republic).
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The Dominican Republic has a great external debt. A significant amount of public debt restrains the growth of economic well-being of the country. The balance of trade is at the level of the deficit. The United States is the most important trading partner of the Dominican Republic. Japan, Western Europe, and Canada are also foreign trade partners of the country (The Dominican Republic).
The Dominican Republic, like any other country, faces a number of problems. Unemployment is one of them. In the Dominican Republic, about 17% of the population is unemployed. This number exceeds the world average index. Nevertheless, it is still not extremely high. In the long term, this problem can be solved. However, the main and most difficult problem is poverty. The share of the poor population is about 30%. To solve the problem of poverty, the government actively cooperates with the World Bank. For example, on July 6, 1999, the World Bank provided a loan for the next three years in the amount of $ 360 million to fight against poverty. Strategies have been developed, according to which the World Bank will support the economic and social development of the country. These strategies have been focused on investing in the health and education sectors, as well as on the reform of telecommunications, sanitary support, and other institutions. These reforms are aimed at establishing a clear policy, more effective management and delivery of services. The World Bank approved the project at $ 42 million aimed at providing educational opportunities to children from low-income families. The Dominican Republic also receives credits from the IMF to struggle with the global financial crisis. IMF recommends the Dominican Republic to widen the tax base and diminish tax exemptions (International Monetary Fund 21).
The Dominican Republic has a hard condition of education. “The provision of a quality public education is one of the Dominican Republic’s most fundamental challenges” (IBP 86). In 2010, the Dominican Republic, and the Inter-American Development Bank signed several arrangements on financial encouragement for educational drafts in the country. The amount of funds amounted to $ 150 million. According to the first arrangement, a credit of $ 100 million was intended for the development of the productivity of the school timetable and classes at schools, as well as the development of the digestibility of the material. Under the second agreement, a loan of $ 50 million was aimed at supporting the plan for the improvement of education in the Dominican Republic for the next decade. According to the plan, it is necessary to improve the results of students in mathematics, writing, and reading. The funds were also used to purchase new equipment and materials for schools (IBP 86).
The health system of the Dominican Republic is greatly developed. In accordance with the agreement on the integration with the United States, new and modern equipment for operations and diagnostics was brought to the Dominican Republic. Many doctors are trained in different countries. In addition to public hospitals, private clinics are also widely developed (Boslaugh 135). A system of insurance is widespread. “The Dominican Republic has a universal medical benefits system and a social insurance system proving cash benefits to the employed and pensioners” (Boslaugh 135). In many cases, it covers 100% of the cost of medicines.
The traditional branches of industry are food (sugar production), mining and processing of metals and metal-containing raw materials (gold, bauxite, and iron-ore), and cement production. “The country was once known primarily for sugar production, but today, mining, manufacturing, services, and tourism are some of the most important industries” (Phillips and Gritzne 71). Tourism is the most important source of foreign exchange earnings. At present, tourism is one of the most significant sources of income of the Dominican Republic. Annually, more than 3 million tourists visit the country.
Free Trade Zones
Free trade zones began to appear in the second half of the last century as an alternative to the fading sugar industry. The drop in demand for sugar together with an increase in oil prices in this period led to a critical situation in the economy of the Dominican Republic. Free trade zones have been established by the government for the development of economic potential and promotion of the inflow of foreign investment. Currently, free trade zones provide a very substantial profit. Textiles, clothing, and small electronic products are exported. Companies are exempt from the state taxes and customs duties on raw materials and finished products. In 2006, over 350 thousand people were occupied on the enterprises of the free trade zones. The enterprises, which are mainly textile and garment factories, provide 80% of the national trade imports (Pinon, Mejia, Garza and Delgado 118-119).
Agriculture of the Dominican Republic
Agriculture in the Dominican Republic provides almost half of the national income and a large amount of export earnings (Foley and Jermyn 38). The main agricultural products of the Dominican Republic are sugarcane, coffee, cotton, cocoa, tobacco, corn, tropical fruit, and others. “The Dominican Republic raises enough livestock for domestic use as well as export” (Foley and Jermyn 43). Livestock is cows, pigs, goat, horses, donkeys, and others. In the north of the Dominican Republic, there are plantations of cocoa, which has gradually become an important export item. In the area of Santiago tobacco is grown. It is also exported. The tobacco and food industries account for about 75% of the value of manufactured goods. The most developed industry is the production of sugar. On the state-owned 12 sugar factories, 70% sugar is made. Sugar was the main source of income of the Dominican Republic. However, after the negative changes in the sugar market, the government decided to promote other crops suitable for export – coffee, cocoa, tobacco, and tropical fruit. More than 40% of the area of the Dominican Republic is set aside for agricultural use and pastures. With the improvement of breeds of cattle, the country has become a supplier of meat to neighboring islands. About half of the agricultural land belongs to the group of large landowners and the government (Foley and Jermyn 41-42).
After a decade of almost zero growth in the 80s, there is the boom of the Dominican economy, with the growth of economic indicators by 7.7% per year on average. Nowadays, tourism is the basis of the economy. The export of sugar, coffee, and tobacco is also of great importance. The economic growth of the Dominican Republic is one of the highest in Latin America. Nevertheless, the country still faces numerous problems. Despite the developed industries, poverty and unemployment are not rare in the Dominican Republic. The share of the poor population includes about 30%.
Dominican Immigrants in the United States
In the article, R.S. Oropesa and L.Jensen raised the prominent topic of immigration and discrimination of Dominicans in the United States, putting a spotlight of the research on the new destinations, assimilation and incorporation processes.
The main thesis of the article authors present is that the observed diversification of immigrant destinations in the United States brings new experiences of interpersonal and institutional discrimination, which are determined by racial markers, forms of capital and incorporation, along with exposures to the United States. The Dominican immigrants seem to be a bright example of the minority that recently have been changing the place of residence on the territory of the USA. In their desperate attempt to start a new prosperous life, displeased Dominicans leave their long-suffering homeland and noisy oversaturated with immigrants New York, making Reading, Pennsylvania the most growing city in the number of Dominicans in the whole country (p.277). Based on the official statistics authors claim that the Hispanic group takes 37 percent of all the population of Reading, diversified in three main subgroups: Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Dominicans. When taking a quick glance on the comparison of social and economic conditions of three main Hispanic groups in the city, it becomes clear that Dominicans are the most disadvantaged group, which suffers a lot more than other Hispanics from poverty and unemployment (p.276).
Dominican Immigrants and Discrimination
Apart from the evident low socioeconomic status, the authors investigate the discrimination the Dominicans face. As a result, the significant majority of the Dominican immigrants appears to be treated unjustly because of their race and ethnicity, which is a result of the unreceptive attitude of the local people and institutions in the place of immigration (p.280). Furthermore, different types of discrimination influence the intensification of the assimilation processes of Dominicans. In order to support the thesis, authors signify that discrimination is especially relevant to Dominicans since they are “Spanish speakers with phenotypical characteristics that are associated with African ancestry” (p. 277, 281). Authors claim that being appraised as blacks because of the skin color, Dominicans get associated with the underclass, and, as a result, face problems on the different levels of social life. The recent reports claim that the discrimination on the racial and ethnic basis is a major problem Dominicans face in the American host society (p.280-281). In fact, it is hard to dispute the numbers indicating the unpleasant experiences Dominican share on being discriminated both on the interpersonal and institutional levels. The authors provide a new information indicating that 42 percent of the respondents claim to be treated unfairly by institutions and their representatives such as employers, the police, and educators (p.288). Additionally the overwhelming majority (78 percent) of respondents indicate that the roots of an unfair treatment are connected with race or ethnicity (p.291).
In addition to racial markers, the endowments that immigrants possess play a significant role in the discrimination issue. Education, finances, and cultural resources also determine the levels of adjustment of immigrants to the host society (p.280). The possession of the named resources makes easier for immigrants to launch into the middle class of the host society, which increases self-esteem and gives less precedents to feel discriminated. However, most of the immigrants are left beyond the measurement of middle class and, therefore, continue to face more frequent hiring rejections, unequal residential outcomes, unjustified criminal sentencing than white people. Consequently, the Dominican immigrants cannot fully integrate with the host society. Even though the low English language proficiency, insufficiency of proper education and skills restrain the assimilation process, authors state that realization of discrimination and its negative connotations becomes evident with “age and different types of human capital such as English language ability” (p.281-282). Thus, authors gradually provide an understanding of what discrimination of immigrants in the modern society means.
In this research, scholars used both primary and secondary sources. The information of the primary source was unpublished but directly connected to the article, while the secondary sources include the published and widely known information on the topic. Altogether, these sources work as a basis to ensure the reliability of the main points, which support the thesis of the research.
Studying the background of the topic, authors get the knowledge from an impressive amount of books, journals, and reports that shed light on the understanding of the main notions of immigration, discrimination, and theories of immigrant assimilation. In order to deeper understand the subject, they go back to the historical background of immigrants in the United States found in the publications and scholar researches as well as books of known authors. For example, claiming the diversification of immigrant destinations in the United States, they refer to the works of Massey and Capoferro , Singer , and others. When presenting the socioeconomic disadvantages faced by Dominican nation as a whole they refer to the National Research Council and works of Portes and Rumbaut . Alba and Nee research gave a scholar insight on how institutional environment and human capital may cause the discrimination of immigrants. Finally, the best source for approaching the experiences and beliefs of Dominicans is the National Survey of Latinos , which was conducted in 2002 and is one of the core sources authors refer to.
The letter one, in the fact, is an example of primary source, which once brought new data and knowledge to the researched field. In order to find new issues, scholars compared the national survey of 2002 and the new one, which conducted themselves.
The undeniable evidence of the bold discrimination of Dominicans authors represented through the collection of the reports of the occurrences of discrimination by the institutions or on the interpersonal level in the city of Reading. They utilized an ethnosurvey conducted in 2004 with 61 residents of Reading, Pennsylvania, who were born in the Dominican Republic. They modeled a survey according to the previously conducted templates. Scholars had a goal to determine how immigrants frame their experiences in terms of discrimination and what could be the reasons of unfair treatment. Thus, using the knowledge they received from the secondary sources, they made a survey, which brought a highly valued input into the field of study. Furthermore, with a help of carefully selected analytical techniques, the scholars were able to make calculations, build tables, and make relevant conclusions.
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In my opinion, this article presents a highly valuable research on the conditions of the life of Hispanic groups in the United States, and makes it possible to understand what discrimination is in the modern society. Even though a black-white racial paradigm in American society has its powerful significance, many people are ready to believe that being the most democratic state the USA has already phased the racial violence out. In the desperate attempt to reach the coveted prosperity, wealth, and worthy conditions of living thousands of people worldwide resettle to the United States, especially from such poor countries as The Dominican Republic. However, the immigrants often face the discrimination from the host society. From the empirical point of view, the article is an enlightening revelation of the perspective of the Dominican immigrants that connect their hardships of the living situation to the fact that they are often associated with African Americans. Despite the fact that article does not give precise answers to the disturbing questions of whether immigrants really are subjects to discrimination and to which extent, we still have an opportunity to get remarkable insights. For instance, we have a chance to look at the American society in a Reading microcosm from the immigrants’ perspective and be more aware of how some of them still face unfair treatment on the institutional and interpersonal levels. Furthermore, exciting is the fact that English language proficiency has a different effect on Dominicans socioeconomic well-being. It is opposite to what people used to think. It would seem correct to think that poor English language skills create barriers for the immigrants and force them to feel as underclass, while the only barrier is not being aware of the discrimination of the host society.
It is curious about the real reasons influencing the assimilation of Dominicans in the area. Authors concluded that assimilation is tightly connected with integration processes and perceptions of discrimination, which could be further investigated. Psychological part manifested in the immigrants’ observation of themselves seems to be very intriguing as it shed light on the immigrants’ awareness of being discriminated and feeling themselves as a separated part from the host society. The question to which extent the Dominicans’ perceptions of discrimination reflect the real unfairness in the area and what, in fact, influences mostly the assimilation processes, still has to be investigated. Incompleteness of the knowledge basis is a constant trigger for sociological studies. In this research, authors give a push for the further explorations of the issue. Authors have completed their mission and given a start to the process of thinking and estimating in the readers’ minds.