Economic Hopes and Realities
With a political system freed from Duvalierism, the Haitian economy potentially can provide for the basic needs of the Haitian people: a minimally adequate diet, primary education and adult literacy for everyone, preventive health services, and a slightly rising standard of living. The potential exists for Haiti to move from number 27 on the World Bank's list of the 40 poorest countries in the world to a ranking as a still poor but lower middle-income society. Haiti will not in the foreseeable future become a "newly industrializing country" like South Korea or Taiwan, but it can rise from abject, grinding poverty to a poverty that is much less degrading and demeaning, as well as to higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality, and basic needs in education and social services.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in a 1990 Human Development Report uses an index of key indicators to measure human deprivation and potential. A series of tables projects the effort that Haiti must make by the year 2000 to significantly improve its performance in child mortality, immunization, primary school enrollment, child malnutrition, female and male adult literacy, and access to safe water. These goals are feasible provided that Haiti resumes economic growth and improves redistribution of resources toward the urban and rural poor.
The Human Development Report cites a number of countries such as Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago whose composite Human Development Index looks much better than their economic growth statistics. Conversely, countries such as Brazil are classified as having high gross national product per capita with modest human development. Haiti ranks low globally in both economic and human development indicators; this is an indication that its priorities need to be both growth and equity.
Haiti's principal economic asset is its human resources. Haitian workers have earned a reputation at home and abroad for being hardworking, diligent, reliable,