The quality of living in the society from which the West Indian labourer comes is, for the vast majority of people in both groups of dependencies, very poor by metropolitan standards. Chronic ill-health, for instance, resulting in the main from bad living conditions, is a common characteristic, although the more serious tropical diseases are now relatively rare. Medical facilities, particularly in the rural areas, are inadequate. The diets of the people are very poor, at any rate from the qualitative standpoint, and malnutrition is widespread. To some extent malnutrition results from lack of education as well as from poverty, and almost all West Indian families, at any rate in the rural areas, and whether with or without gardens of their own, probably could eat somewhat better food.1 There is, however, little understanding of food values; and tastes acquired over many generations, and as a result of conditions long past, incline people to the less valuable foods available.
Housing conditions are uniformly bad, even when account is taken of the fact that housing in tropical areas has a less immediate bearing on well-being than housing in colder climates. The tiny, dilapidated shacks which serve as homes are very much worse than any housing in the urban slums of either the United Kingdom or the United States. Indeed, they would for the most part not be regarded as good enough even as summer shelters for cattle in either of the metropolitan countries. The Moyne Commissioners reporting on the British islands in 1939, remarked: 'that half the population of the West Indies should be rehoused is certainly an understatement.'2 In Puerto Rico, it was estimated in 1949 that three out of four Puerto Rican families were living in substandard housing.3 Housing in the United States Virgin Islands is____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Britain and the United States in the Caribbean:A Comparative Study in Methods of Development. Contributors: Mary Proudfoot - Author. Publisher: Faber & Faber. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1954. Page number: 243.
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