The Political Economy of Disaster
Destitution, Plunder and Earthquake in Haiti
By Mats Lundahl
Routledge – 2012 – 440 pages
Haiti, one of the least developed and most vulnerable nations in the Western Hemisphere, made the international headlines in January 2010 when an earthquake destroyed the capital, Port-au-Prince. More than a year later, little reconstruction has taken place, in spite of a strong international funding commitment.
Mats Lundahl has written several seminal works on Haiti, and this volume brings together the best of his past work on Haiti’s economic and political history, along with a comprehensive introduction and two new chapters which bring the story right up to the present day. Together, the volume provides both historical background and explanation as to why Haiti was so badly affected by the earthquake, and to why reconstruction efforts have been ineffective this far. Lundahl argues that the two main causes can found in the interaction between the growth of the population and the destruction of the arable soil on the one hand, and in the creation of a predatory state during the nineteenth century, which still exists to this day. This book provides a comprehensive analysis, which charts these themes from the time of the arrival of Columbus in the island in 1492, to the present day. The book also deals with contemporary market and policy failures, as well as the crucial recent elections, and considers the path ahead for this impoverished nation.
This book will be of huge relevance and interest not only to students and researchers in economic history, but also for all those working on development economics, development studies and American and Caribbean Studies more generally.
Preface Prologue: The Dismal Past Part I: Before the Quake 1. The Economic Consequences of 1809, or ‘Was Haiti Doomed to Fail?’ A Story of Factor Proportions, Labor Market Institutions and Politics - Appendix: A Capsule History of Haitian Exports 2. Towards the Abyss? The Political Economy of Emergency in Haiti 3. Economic Reform in Haiti: Past Failures and Future Successes? 4. Descent into Crisis: Politics and Economics from Aristide to the Earthquake 5. The Failure of Community-Based Entrepreneurship in Haiti 6. Reaching the Poor: Some Observations on Formal and Informal Credit in Haiti 7. Book Reviews: i. Some Recent Historical Works on Haiti ii. Haitian Migration iii. Jacques Roumain and Gouverneurs de la rosée 8. Economic Growth in Haiti: A Mere Illusion? Part II: The Earthquake and After 9. 7.0 on the Richter Scale 10. The Controversial Death Toll 11. The Election Farce 12. Camps, Security and Rebuilding 13. The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission 14. Industrialization by Necessity 15. Micky at the Helm Epilogue: Institutional Failure
Mats Lundahl is Professor of Development Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden.