What We Can Learn from Mauritius

How a tiny African nation provides education, health care for all
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2011 1:31 PM CST
An elderly woman arrives to vote in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, in this May 5, 2010 file photo.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Imagine a nation that provided free health care and a college education for all its citizens while maintaining a nicely balanced budget. Sound impossible? Well, they’ve managed it in Mauritius, a small island nation off the east coast of Africa with no "exploitable" natural resources to speak of. The country has also ensured that 87% of its populace owns a home—without sparking a housing bubble. In other words, the US could learn a lot from this modest nation, Nobel Economics Laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes for Project Syndicate.

“Mauritius recognized that without natural resources, its people were its only asset,” Stiglitz explains, so it invested in them. “The question is not whether we can afford to provide health care or education for all, or ensure widespread homeownership. If Mauritius can afford these things, America and Europe—which are several orders of magnitude richer—can too.” Mauritius also decided that most military spending was a waste. “The US need not go as far: just a fraction of the money that America spends on weapons that don’t work against enemies that don’t exist would go a long way.” Click to read the entire piece.

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