Santo Domingo enjoyed one of the strongest real GDP growth rates (+36%) in Latin America over 2011-2016. The city accounted for 34% of total country's GDP in 2016. Much of the city's economy is dependent on tertiary based categories, which accounted for 79% of its total gross value added in 2016. At present, Santo Domingo is undergoing rapid urban and economic development, turning the city into a service-based economy.
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Santo Domingo derives its economic strength from the presence of key national infrastructural assets, including two airports and two ports. The city is also home to the country's most educated labour force (21% of the population in the city aged 15+ had higher education in 2016, compared to 11% in the rest of the Dominican Republic), which drives up the concentration of high value-added industries in the city. However, Santo Domingo recorded only 0.3% higher labour productivity than the remaining parts of the country.
Santo Domingo's vibrant economy does not, however, benefit its residents equally. With a Gini index of 67, its income distribution is one of the most unequal globally. In 2016, average disposable household income in Santo Domingo lagged behind the average for the rest of the Dominican Republic by 3.6%, which is due in part to the significant income inequality, which is much greater in Santo Domingo than in the rest of the country.
Consumer expenditure per household (excluding transport and housing) was 23% lower in Santo Domingo than in the rest of the country in 2016. However, discretionary spending in Santo Domingo was much greater than in the rest of the country in the categories of education and communications.
Transport is the single largest spending category in the budgets of Santo Domingo's households, accounting for 30% of the total in 2016, versus 20% elsewhere in the country. This was a major factor in reducing the city's affordability. In 2016, consumer expenditure on housing and transport per household in Santo Domingo was 31% higher than elsewhere in the country.