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Winds of Pain


With Hurricane Irma still raging and Jose on the way, interest in the potential economic impact of such devastating storms and inter-island risks/outcomes across the Caribbean has risen. So what do we know?

Figures from the last six decades suggests that the region can reasonably expect between 2 and 3 economically damaging storms each year. Nations in the Northern part of the region (Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic. Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico) are overwhelmingly more likely to suffer in terms of incidence (60%) and total damages (80%).

Although the data is incomplete, there is also some evidence that those who have experienced more storms over the last 60 years will have lower GDP per head today. This might reflect factors such as cumulative impacts of the past destruction of capital stocks or the need to devote a greater share of available resources to containing potential damages rather then investing in growth-enhancing activities.