In the wake of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, another South American country, Chile, has been rattled by a huge quake. Registering at 8.8 on the Richter scale, the earthquake was 1,000 times larger than Haiti’s. Comparing other factors, the epicenter of Haiti’s earthquake was 16 miles outside of Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital with a population of roughly 700,000. In Chile, the earthquake was centered 70 miles away from Concepcion, home to 900,000 people.
The striking difference is in GDP and the death toll. In the immediate aftermath, Chile has estimated 78 dead, with that number expected to rise. By how much it will rise, though, is the question. Haiti initially estimated more than 100,000 dead, clearly outdistancing initial Chilean reports. As discussed in class, GDP can be a good estimator of well-being. Chile’s per capita GDP is $14,700, more than 10 times the $1,300 of an average Haitian. By simply looking at GDP, the death toll should be far less than the 230,000 recorded in Haiti.