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Is Haiti the poorest country in the world?

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November 02, 2008 4:48AM

Here are excerpts from an article. Links to the entire article are provided below. HAITI: The Challenges of Poverty Reduction

August 1998 Executive Summary What accounts for the dire extent of poverty in Haiti? Over time, numerous observers have given many and diverse answers to this difficult question. This report points to a number of key factors:

Political instability, woefully poor governance, and corruption. Fundamental to the pervasive problem of poverty in Haiti is the long history of political instability and the lack of governance. Corruption and misuse of public funds have resulted in a decline in the quality of all public services, including such fundamental areas of traditional governmental responsibility as the police, the justice system, and the provision of basic infrastructure. While the restoration of democracy in Haiti is a highly welcome development and one which has resulted in some encouraging progress, the basic problems of governance remain and are at the core of the country's poverty problems.

Inadequate growth, a result of distortions at the macroeconomic level and inadequate levels of private investment. The political factors just enumerated have had a severely negative impact on private investment, both domestic and foreign. The investment/GDP ratio in Haiti is only about 10 percent--on the order of one-third, for example, the ratio in Chile. This report estimates that Haiti would require annual growth rates of at least 5 percent to achieve significant progress in poverty reduction. Instead, as noted above, the country has experienced negative growth of about that magnitude in recent years and prospects for meaningful improvement on the growth front are not in sight.

Underinvestment in human capital and the poor quality of the expenditures that are made. In the public sector, still only 20 percent of resources go to rural areas, where approximately two-thirds of the people live. Per capita health spending, both public and private, is about $21, compared to $38 in Sub-Saharan Africa and $202 in Latin America.

A "poverty trap." The interaction of these various factors, including high population growth, produces a downward spiral, a "poverty trap" from which there frequently appears no exit nor hope. Some aspects of that trap discussed in this report include: high unwanted fertility; rampant environmental degradation, especially in rural areas; an increase in crime and violence; systematic abuse of human rights; and outward migration from the country to escape a life of misery. In short, the lack of good governance, the low levels of growth and investment, the lack of attention to basic human needs, and a set of understandable if lamentable behavioral consequences which interact in numerous and complex ways, all with one outcome: an increase in poverty and associated human, physical, social, and environmental degradation. The entire article can be read from the following websites: http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/External/lac/lac.nsf/3af04372e7f23ef6852567d6006b38a3/8479e9126e3537f0852567ea000fa239?OpenDocument http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/EXTPA/0,,contentMDK:20207590~menuPK:443285~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:430367,00.html

Here are excerpts from an article. Links to the entire article are provided below. HAITI: The Challenges of Poverty Reduction

August 1998 Executive Summary What accounts for the dire extent of poverty in Haiti? Over time, numerous observers have given many and diverse answers to this difficult question. This report points to a number of key factors:

Political instability, woefully poor governance, and corruption. Fundamental to the pervasive problem of poverty in Haiti is the long history of political instability and the lack of governance. Corruption and misuse of public funds have resulted in a decline in the quality of all public services, including such fundamental areas of traditional governmental responsibility as the police, the justice system, and the provision of basic infrastructure. While the restoration of democracy in Haiti is a highly welcome development and one which has resulted in some encouraging progress, the basic problems of governance remain and are at the core of the country's poverty problems.

Inadequate growth, a result of distortions at the macroeconomic level and inadequate levels of private investment. The political factors just enumerated have had a severely negative impact on private investment, both domestic and foreign. The investment/GDP ratio in Haiti is only about 10 percent--on the order of one-third, for example, the ratio in Chile. This report estimates that Haiti would require annual growth rates of at least 5 percent to achieve significant progress in poverty reduction. Instead, as noted above, the country has experienced negative growth of about that magnitude in recent years and prospects for meaningful improvement on the growth front are not in sight.

Underinvestment in human capital and the poor quality of the expenditures that are made. In the public sector, still only 20 percent of resources go to rural areas, where approximately two-thirds of the people live. Per capita health spending, both public and private, is about $21, compared to $38 in Sub-Saharan Africa and $202 in Latin America.

A "poverty trap." The interaction of these various factors, including high population growth, produces a downward spiral, a "poverty trap" from which there frequently appears no exit nor hope. Some aspects of that trap discussed in this report include: high unwanted fertility; rampant environmental degradation, especially in rural areas; an increase in crime and violence; systematic abuse of human rights; and outward migration from the country to escape a life of misery. In short, the lack of good governance, the low levels of growth and investment, the lack of attention to basic human needs, and a set of understandable if lamentable behavioral consequences which interact in numerous and complex ways, all with one outcome: an increase in poverty and associated human, physical, social, and environmental degradation. The entire article can be read from the following websites: http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/External/lac/lac.nsf/3af04372e7f23ef6852567d6006b38a3/8479e9126e3537f0852567ea000fa239?OpenDocument http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/EXTPA/0,,contentMDK:20207590~menuPK:443285~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:430367,00.html

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest countries in the developing world. Its per capital income--$ 250--is considerably less than one-tenth the Latin American average. About 80 percent of the rural Haitian population live in poverty. Moreover, far from improving, the poverty situation in Haiti has been deteriorating over the past decade, concomitant with a rate of decline in per capita GNP of 5.2 percent a year over the 1985-95 period. excerpt from: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/EXTPA/0,,contentMDK:20207590~menuPK:443285~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:430367,00.html