Health, wealth, and education: the socioeconomic backdrop for marine conservation in the developing world
Interacting drivers and pressures in many parts of the world are greatly undermining the long-term health and wellbeing of coastal human populations and marine ecosystems. However, we do not yet have a well-formed picture of the nature and extent of the human poverty of coastal communities in these areas. In this paper, we begin to fill the gap and present a multi-dimensional picture of the wellbeing of coastal communities, using nationally representative survey data to examine the health, wealth, and educational status of households in over 38000 communities across 38 developing countries. In general, we found high levels of poverty across the 3 dimensions (health, wealth, and education) analyzed, but each dimension also showed large heterogeneity within and across countries. We found that coastal communities had statistically significant higher levels of wellbeing than non-coastal communities. Coastal children were less stunted, less poor, and more likely to live in a higher educated household when compared to non‑coastal households. However, we found that across coastal communities, rural coastal communities had 1.5 times lower height-for-age standard deviation scores (representing high childhood stunting rates), were 4 times more likely to be poor, and were 1.6 times more likely to have low levels of educational attainment. A deeper understanding of human wellbeing along coasts is critical for generating wider social and more long-term economic benefits with respect to coastal marine management.