Vulnerability and Livelihoods before and after the Haiti Earthquake

This paper examines the dynamics of poverty and vulnerability in Haiti using various data sets. As living conditions survey data are not comparable in this country, we first propose to use the three rounds of the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) available before the earthquake. Decomposing household assets changes into age and cohort effects, we use repeated cross-section data to identify and estimate the variance of shocks on assets and to simulate the probability of being poor in the future. Poverty and vulnerability profiles are drawn from these estimates. Second, we decompose vulnerability to poverty into various sources using a unique survey conducted in 2007 in rural areas. Using two-level modelling of consumption/income, we assess the impact of both observable and unobservable idiosyncratic and covariate shocks on households’ economic well-being. Empirical findings show that idiosyncratic shocks, in particular health-related shocks, have larger impact on vulnerability to poverty than covariate shocks. Third, asset-wealth is characterized for households after the 2010 earthquake based on a survey designed to provide a rapid assessment of food insecurity in Haiti after the quake. Whereas it is not possible to con rm the existence of poverty trap, it seems that those households who have lost the most due to the earthquake succeeded in recovering more rapidly from the shock, regardless of the effects of assistance, and probably more in line with coping strategies that are specific to households.

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