Haitian social fabric fraying

Tyler Cowen does a roundup of bad news you may have missed coming out of Haiti:

The Haitians are now figuring out how to rob and murder visiting Americans; the body count is suddenly at four. The level of rape is escalating.

One simple hypothesis is that people behave fairly calmly, and even passively, during shocking experiences and in their immediate aftermath. The medium-term response can be quite different.

Most people are ignoring the Haitian situation, as they have mistakenly concluded it has stabilized. It has not. You still have a million and a half people, in a basically untenable situation, more or less homeless, with the heart of the country destroyed and not much ongoing reconstruction or reform.

Yesterday this caught Cowen’s eye:

Haiti’s population is expected to jump from the current 9.6 million to 13.4 million in 2050, marking a 40 percent increase, according to data released Monday.


Hurricane season in Haiti officially began three weeks ago, bringing rain to the region nearly every day. More than 1.5 million Haitians remain in the streets. Yet this week, the United Nations completed a study, revealing that 40 percent of all emergency shelters, including tents and tarps, already need to be replaced or “improved.”

NPR points out the downside of free rice:

Haiti’s earthquake left the nation’s rice economy in ruins. That’s a big deal, because many Haitians eke out a living distributing and selling rice, the nation’s staple food. First, the quake damaged the nation’s main port, disrupting the regular supply of imported rice. Then, aid groups distributed free rice to thousands of people — who stopped buying rice from street vendors. As demand dried up, the street vendors stopped buying from small, local rice wholesalers. That’s been a devastating blow to many vendors and small wholesalers.

Past Posts