More GDP and Earthquakes

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.


Sebastian said...

Another story related to this is the Hawaiian tsunami predicted to hit the coast later in the day after the earthquake occurred. The quick response and efforts to take every precaution also demonstrate a difference in the level of GDP per capita that Hawaii maintains compared to other islands. I don't think there is any question that if a tsunami were headed toward Jamaica or Haiti, the efforts to save lives would look more like a chicken with it's head cut off if there were any efforts to begin with.

Matthew said...

I think that it is interesting that Chile is still having after shocks. Big ones at that.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/12/world/americas/12chile.html This article talks about the latest one that everybody noticed, becasue it was while their new president was being sworn in. I personally think that it is time we stop asking for donations for Haiti. Nobody has really talked about any sort of ideas on how they are going to change Haiti with this money. so stop the advertisements about Haiti.

Logan said...

I think it's a little ironic how the Chili earthquake came so quickly after the Haiti one. Though there are some big differences between the circumstances of the two earthquakes, we can't ignore the fact that the much more powerful one killed far less people, which of course exemplifies what we were talking about in class regarding how well GDP measures countries' well-being.

Dr. Tufte said...

I think you're all brushing the surface here, but missing the big picture.

Morally (if we care about people) we have an obligation to make sure that Haiti does the sort of things that Chile has done.

How do we make that happen?

Victoria said...

I found this article in which it compares the two earthquakes: Haiti vs Chile. As we all know, Chile is richer than Haiti. One of the most interesting numbers that I have found in this article is the one that talks about the level of corruption in one country and the other. This makes me think that corruption has a high correlation with the poverty of a country and with the amount of a country that gets destroyed by a natural disaster. This article states, the level of corruption in Haiti is 168 according to Ranking on worldwide corruption index and the level of corruption in Chile is 25 according to the same scale. Haiti’s government is more corrupt than Chile’s government. This is making Haiti’s population poorer. This is the cause of the poor quality houses and buildings which get destroyed easier from a natural disaster than the houses in a country less corrupt like Chile.


Tyler said...

I just read this article "How to help Haiti rebuild". It talk's about a lot of positive points that Haiti needs to focus on. It's not just the need to rebuild the infrastructure it’s a lot deeper than that. Haiti has had many major disasters over the last decade. And they are going to continue to happen just because of Haiti’s location. The developed countries need to step in and assist Haiti in a time of need not only by giving money to them but also by leading them in the right direction and helping them stabilize their country and help them grow. Haiti has good natural resources and beautiful beaches for tourism. We need to support the Haitians by helping them sustain a strong education system to develop strong future leaders. Saying all this we need to support them in building a strong country with a high GDP. Because with high GDP comes higher living standard and quality of life improves and thousands of people don’t die from and earthquake.