Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti's Economic Performance

Catherine Rampell on the New York Times' Blog:

Even before Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, Haiti had a distressed economy.

It is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, with around 80 percent of the population living under the poverty line and 54 percent living in abject poverty, according to the CIA World Factbook. More than two-thirds of the labor force are believed to not have formal jobs, and just 62.1 percent of adults over age 15 are literate, according to the United Nations Human Development Report.

Haiti also has among the world’s lowest levels of gross domestic product per capita.

Despite the destruction wreaked by multiple tropical storms in 2008, in many ways Haiti’s economy and infrastructure-building seemed to be turning a corner in recent years, aided by international support and debt relief programs.

In fact, Haiti was one of only two Caribbean countries expected to grow in 2009. There were hopes of a tourism revival, reinforced by the announcement that a new Comfort Inn would open there this May. In a sign of its growing structural sophistication, Haiti even recently announced that it would begin collecting better national statistics, with the help of theInternational Monetary Fund, so that it could better assess and calibrate its economic policies.


For more information on Haiti’s economic development and challenges, gohere, here, here, here and here.

Update: Here are some theories from Tyler Cowen about why Haiti has remained so poor.


Ian said...

As you know, Haiti—already one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere—was devastated by an earthquake yesterday. Portland-based Mercy Corps is sending an emergency relief team to Port-au-Prince, and we’d like your help in spreading the word. Would you consider writing a blog post highlighting Mercy Corps’ efforts there? We’d also really appreciate it if you could put one of our banners on your sidebar: Mercy Corps has extensive experience responding to earthquakes: Indonesia in 2009, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Peru in 2007. Please help us respond as quickly and effectively to this disaster as we did to those.

For more information about Mercy Corps’ efforts in Haiti, you can check out,, and Our efforts for Haiti have also been mentioned by The Huffington Post (, The New York Times (, The U.S. State Department (, and The Christian Science Monitor (


Ian Goldsmith

Intern, Mercy Corps

Stacy said...

We have always known that Haiti is a poor country .. tehy can't buy viagra .. The devastation and sadness after the earthquake is imminent .. We must help