Generations of poor Haitians paid France — its colonizer — roughly $560 million in today’s dollars. Had these funds stayed in Haiti, according to some estimates, the Haitian economy could be eight times larger than its 2020 GDP of roughly $14.5 billion.
Attention is steadily growing on these reparation payments, as are calls for France to pay Haiti. Yet, as The New York Sun argued recently, payments to a corrupt government should be a non-starter because they are unlikely to lift the people of Haiti out of poverty.
Our research suggests one significant addendum. Waiting for an ethical government and strong institutions to come to Haiti’s rescue is unlikely, in and of itself, to pull the country out of poverty. That suggests there is a better path forward for the dollars France owes Haiti.