Poverty in Haiti

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Slums in the area of Bas-Ravine, in the northern part of Cap-Haïtien

Poverty in Haiti affects its people in many aspects of everyday life, including housing, nutrition, education, healthcare, infant mortality rates, as well as environment.[1] Haiti has constantly been plagued with low levels of living conditions, with many Haitians moving into the capital city of Port-au-Prince in a bid to escape poverty in the more rural areas of the country. Levels of poverty in Haiti are generally regarded as among the most severe in the western hemisphere. In 2012, the gross domestic product in Haiti was estimated to be US$13.15 billion by The World Factbook, ranked 146 (out of 299 countries) in the world.[2] Based on estimates by the World Bank in 2001, the percentage of people living below the poverty line is 78%.[3]


Structural violence[edit]

Solid waste has been bought by the inhabitants of Petite-Anse (Cap-Haïtien, Haiti) to create a road and "soil", after it has decomposed.

One of the underlying problems that is creating poverty within Haiti is structural violence.[1] As defined by Medical Anthropologist Dr. Paul Farmer, structural violence is the way by which social arrangements are constructed that put specific members or groups of a population in harm's way. Such groups include females and those belonging to lower socioeconomic classes[4] Being one of the world's poorest countries, Haiti illustrates how prevailing societal frameworks perpetuate the suffering of certain individuals and communities.[5][6] Due to social factors such as racism, pollution, poor housing, and varying forms of social disparity, structural violence limits the citizens of Haiti, particularly those living in rural areas or coming from less privileged backgrounds, from receiving the necessary assistance and support to escape the poverty trap.[4] Studies have suggested that by addressing unfavorable bio-social phenomena, such as social inequalities, the impact of structural violence in perpetuating poverty can be reduced. Subsequently, improvements to the nation's standard of living and quality of life can also be attained.[4]


In 2013, Haiti was ranked the fifteenth most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, with a CPI score of 19.[7] Studies conducted by Transparency International shows a strong correlation between corruption and poverty. Corruption increases poverty through lower economic growth rates, biased tax systems which would also lead to a widening disparity between the rich and the poor, poor implementation of social programs, lower welfare spending and unequal access to education.[8] Specifically for Haiti, studies have shown that international donors have been slow to assist Haiti, mainly due to widespread corruption and structural problems present in the country. Overseas charitable organisations have contributed more than $2.6 billion of aid to Haiti since 1994, of which any obvious benefits have yet to be seen.[9]

Infant mortality[edit]

Haiti's infant mortality rate of 53 deaths per 1,000 live births (in 2011)[10] is a result of the poor healthcare system. The lack of a well-planned education system is the cause of low literacy rates (45%) in the country.[11]

Under age 1 (per 1,000 live births)
Year Deaths
1990 99
2009 64
2011 53
Under age 5 (per 1,000 live births)
Year Deaths
1990 143
2009 87
2011 70


Haiti ranks 59.5[12] in the Gini Coefficient index, with the richest 10% of Haitians receiving 47.83% of the nation's income, while the poorest 10% receive less than 0.9%.[13]


  1. ^ a b Sen, Paul Farmer ; foreword by Amartya (2004). Pathologies of power : health, human rights, and the new war on the poor : with a new preface by the author (2° édition. ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24326-2. 
  2. ^ "Central America and Caribbean :: Haiti". The World Factbook. CIA. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  3. ^ "Haiti - World Development Indicators". The World Bank. 2001. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  4. ^ a b c Farmer, Paul E.; Bruce Nizeye; Sara Stulac; Salmaan Keshavjee (October 2006). "Structural Violence and Clinical Medicine". PLoS Medicine 3 (10): 1686–1690. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030449. 
  5. ^ The World Bank. "Haiti Overview". The World Bank. Retrieved 20 Mar 2013. 
  6. ^ Farmer, Paul (June 2004). "An Anthropology of Structural Violence". Current Anthropology 45 (3): 305–325. doi:10.1086/382250. 
  7. ^ "2013 Corruption Perception Index--Results". Transparency International. 2012. Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  8. ^ Gupta, Sanjeev; Daoodi, Hamid; Alonso-Terme, Rosa (1998). "Does Corruption Affect Income Inequality and Poverty?". IMF Working Papers: 4–5. 
  9. ^ Roc, Nancy (March 2009). "Haiti: The Bitter Grapes of Corruption". FRIDE. p. 8. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  10. ^ "At a glance: Haiti". UNICEF. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  11. ^ "Haiti Introduction". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  12. ^ World Resources Institute, EarthTrends Environmental Information (2000-2007)
  13. ^ Tradingeconomics – Income distribution in Haiti