Why being a taxi driver in Cuba can get you a lot of money there.


Why being a taxi driver in Cuba can get you a lot of money there.


Classic taxis in Cuba
Classic taxis in Cuba

When you think of a high paying job, you might think about a doctor, surgeon, engineer, scientist, or basically any other job that requires a high amount of skill. That is, if the economy is perfectly balanced between private and public sector control, such as in many countries in the world today. But in Cuba, a taxi driver earns more than a doctor. Why the heck?

It all has to do with how greatly politics affect the economy. Cuba’s economy is generally referred to as an “upside-down economy.”, where the highest paid jobs require the least skill, and the lowest paid jobs require the highest amount of skill. But more specifically, those high paying jobs which takes lower skill are privatized in Cuba’s unbelievably small private sector, and prices can be regulated by the business owners. Meanwhile workers such as doctors, engineers and other jobs in the public sector get paid less because the government pays them that much.

A bit of history

The Cuban Comunist era.
The Cuban Comunist era.

Back then in 1959 when Cuban Communist Party founder Fidel Castro took power over the entire country, Cuba was surviving thanks to subsidies from the Soviet Union due to a strong bond between Castro and the USSR. Just like the general concept of Communism, every Cuban citizen gets equal assets and payment no matter their job, productivity, and so on. It was all going fine until on Christmas day in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed due to some factors such as nationalist movements, Perestroika and Glasnost, and so on.

Ever since the collapse, Cuba’s economy has been dwindling. Because the USSR collapsed, no one gave Cuba support and subsidies, and considering that Cuba is a country very dependent on imports, resources in the country have been reducing, and growth is only a term the government could dream of. Cuban citizens use a rations card to collect supplies from the government for their well being. Ration cards in 2015 showed significantly less values than ration cards in 1992, and some rations have completely been cut off. Currently, they depend on subsidies from China and neighboring countries such as Venezuela.

Cuban Incomes

A taxi in Cuba
A taxi in Cuba

In Cuba, a taxi driver earns approximately $60 dollars, compared to the average wage of $40. Cuban government workers get paid way less than privatized workers due to average incomes forced to be cut because the economy is getting worse and worse every year. The average salary in Cuba is just $25 per month, which is really small compared to neighboring countries such as in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and countries in South America.

But why do Cuban taxi drivers, or more specifically, people who aren’t working in the government sector earn higher than the average people in Cuba? One word: Privatization.

Cuba's "Black Market"

Scooter taxis in Cuba.
Scooter taxis in Cuba.

Cuba has this sort of “Black market”, where independent businessmen and women from the country set up their own businesses without any government regulations. No government regulations means that they could set up their own prices, which leads to higher incomes, which are usually higher than what the government pays them. Cubans usually have a secondary job above their first one, which earns them way more income for survival in the country. They barely work in their primary job because it earns them little income from the government, and due to little to no government regulations, the prices they set are usually high and overpriced for the sake of survival.

Cuba’s private, or “black” market is still niche, but it is slowly growing due to may people taking desperate actions to survive in the country for the sake of higher incomes. Until Cuba’s government does something about this situation, the unregulated private sector could cause income inequality, and the incentives for skilled workers and government workers to work will greatly reduce, which could be very detrimental to the country.

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Carguyken 918

Man! Cuban taxis look nice!

12/08/2017 - 14:12 |
24 | 0

Honestly I would love to go there. The car culture there is amazing. Classics everywhere.

12/08/2017 - 14:13 |
8 | 0

They are all sixties american classics, they have hardly imported any cars since the 60’s due to the import prices and low national wages, so 95% of all the cars are pre 60’s american cars, which have been running for 65 odd years.

12/09/2017 - 11:45 |
2 | 0

Those Taxi’s look awesome!

12/08/2017 - 14:31 |
2 | 0

Guess that’s the Cuban mile

12/08/2017 - 14:38 |
0 | 0
Kyle Ashdown

Right in the economics! Great post :)

12/09/2017 - 03:07 |
8 | 2

Interesting read! To be honest, most of us would happily work for free if it meant driving around those classics every day…

12/09/2017 - 09:33 |
6 | 0
Gvido L

One major problem with American classic in Cuba : most of them have something like Toyota diesel engine, as simply cannot afford to maintain V8s. But cars are kept amazing only because of local craftsman skill level to manufacture whatever from whatever recourses available!

12/09/2017 - 13:51 |
4 | 0
Aaron 15

Great post dude, I’ve always been fascinated by Cuban culture. However, most American cars over there are worthless heaps. They have to run on Soviet truck running gear or even diesel engines from Peugeot, simply because the old V8s were too thirsty to run everyday and the lack of parts for them is shocking. I happen to know of a method used by some in which they use a mixture of alcohol, shampoo and brown sugar to create make-do brake fluid!

But it’s an interesting country nonetheless, and you won’t find cars scattered across the streets with extravagant style and chrome anywhere else.

12/09/2017 - 16:39 |
2 | 0

Holy crap. Talk about DIY.

12/09/2017 - 16:39 |
0 | 0
Soni Redx (MD Squad Leader) (Subie Squad Leader)

Low Rider Song Comes On..

12/09/2017 - 22:51 |
2 | 0
Forza Napoli

This is why as venezuelan I’m scared sh*tless of the economic and idelogical model. Socialism is a WMD, I can’t explain it simpler than that. There’s a lack of everything right now, people are stealing things from parked cars such as wheels, batteries and now they are taking the engine oil too to resell it! I swear i saw the other day a sign saying “half life of use engine oil for sale” i was like “WTF is this sketchy BS?”

And btw, nice post.

12/09/2017 - 23:06 |
2 | 0
Danny Quesada

My family is from Cuba and i have been there. Scary to see the conditions and what’s more scary is that no one will do anything about it. Neither the us or Cuba government. Don’t listen to the media they are lying to you.

12/11/2017 - 17:58 |
2 | 0


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