Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences and Globalization


Social Sciences

First Reader/Committee Chair

Grisham, Kevin E.


Although it appears likely that the profoundly asymmetrical political and economic relationship between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) has contributed to the abandonment of traditional agriculture, import-dependency, and a decrease in quality of life for the citizens of the RMI, limits in existing quantitative data make it impossible to model exactly how this occurred. Therefore, rather than seek to model this causal relationship, the researcher employed three existing ethnographic studies to establish a quantitative measure of the transformation itself. Using additional government documents to supplement the existing data, a measure of relative percentage of imports to exports was constructed. This allowed a simple quantitative analysis of the transformation from self-sufficiency to dependency on food imports that occurred in the years between 1949 and 2014 in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which is consistent with the literature. Peculiarities in the data were also discussed in light of historical and contextual considerations, particularly the history of U.S. nuclear testing in the RMI. Further, the limitations in available data in Pacific Island region, and among Territories and former Territories of the United States were examined more closely. Using a data set comprising twenty governmental and international data banks, with twenty indicators for each of the twenty nations, the effect of nation size, population, and political affiliation were each examined in light of relative data availability. The conclusion of this preliminary analysis suggests that the limitations in available data for Pacific Island nations, as well as U.S. Territories and former Territories, is not due to the remoteness of their location, nor to small size, nor to low population. Rather, this research strongly suggest that it is the dependent relationship with the United States that effectively limits the data availability for any given nation. This is observed in data sourced through the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and others. It is concluded that further research into this topic is necessary to enable fair and thorough investigation of the economic and demographic impact of decisions made by developed nations, particularly on vulnerable nations such as the RMI.