Haiti's economic and social development continue to be hindered by political instability, governance issues, and fragility. With a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of US$1,149.50 and a Human Development Index ranking of 170 out of 189 countries in 2020, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Latin America and Caribbean region and among the poorest countries in the world.
The Haitian economy has been battered by multiple shocks since mid-2018. Even before COVID-19 hit, the economy was contracting and facing significant fiscal imbalances. Following a contraction of 1.7% percent in 2019 in the context of the political turmoil and social discontent, GDP contracted by an estimated 3.8% in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the already weak economy and political instability.
Past marginal gains in poverty reduction have been undone by the recent shocks, with current estimates pointing to a poverty rate of nearly 60% in 2020 compared to the last official national estimate of 58.5% in 2012. About two thirds of the poor live in rural areas. The welfare gap between urban and rural areas is largely due to adverse conditions for agricultural production.
Haiti is among the most unequal countries in the region. The Gini coefficient (based on an income aggregate) was 0.61 in 2012, with the richest 20 percent of the population holding more than 64 percent of the total income of the country, compared to less than 2 percent held by the poorest 20 percent.
Haiti has made significant progress in controlling cholera, with no laboratory-confirmed cases since 2019. Despite this progress, improvements in human capital have stalled and, in some cases, deteriorated since 2012. Infant and maternal mortality remain at high levels, and coverage of prevention measures (including vaccination and vitamin A supplementation) are stagnating or declining, especially for the poorest households. According to the Human Capital Index, a child born today in Haiti will grow up to be only 45% as productive as they could be if he or she had enjoyed full education and health.
In addition to the challenges posed by the pandemic and the political stalemate, Haiti remains highly vulnerable to natural hazards, mainly hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. More than 96% of the population is exposed to these types of shocks. Hurricane Matthew, which hit the country in 2016, caused losses and damages estimated at 32% of 2015 GDP, while the 2010 earthquake, that killed about 250,000 people, decimated 120% of the country GDP. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency, intensity, and impacts of extreme weather events, and the country still lacks adequate preparedness and coping mechanisms.
Last Updated: Apr 26, 2021