Haiti’s Earthquake the World’s Most Economically Devastating

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for all related links.] Scoop reported that new research by “Compare the Market” lists Haiti’s 2010 earthquake as the world’s most economically devastating event, costing 120% of the country’s GDP (30% higher than the second-most impactful event in the world). According to the article, Christchurch’s 2011 earthquake and Puerto Rico’s 2017 Hurricane Maria disaster round out the top three.

Haiti’s 2010 earthquake has been determined the world’s most economically devastating natural disaster, according to new research by Compare the Market. The report, which includes natural disasters for the years 2000 to 2019 with a damage bill exceeding US$1 billion, analysed the economic impact of each event on their country’s GDP.

Haiti’s earthquake was by far the most impactful – at a cost of US$8 billion in 2010, the damage bill represented 120% of their GDP at the time. The World Bank notes that the actual repair costs reached as high as US$11.3 billion – significantly more than the US$8 billion of immediate damage caused by the earthquake.

The only events to come even close to that level of economic devastation were the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 and Hurricane Maria (costing US$15 billion and US$90 billion respectively at the time of each event), which tore through Puerto Rico in 2017. While both events cost significantly more than Haiti’s disaster in dollar terms, the impact on their GDPs were notably less (89% and 87% of GDP respectively).

Combined, disasters across the world displaced 38.5 million people between 2000 and 2019. About 4.2 billion people were directly impacted – some more than once.

Across the period studied, Compare the Market found that 2005 was the costliest year globally at US$214 billion. The contributing events include Hurricane Katrina, Wilma, and Rita, which all took place across the US. Throughout the entire period studied, the total global economic losses were recorded at US$2.97 trillion, accounted for across 7,348 recorded events.

The United States recorded 467 disasters between 2000 and 2019. Despite many of these being listed as billion-dollar events, many of them represent less than 1% of the country’s GDP. It’s a stark difference to a country such as Haiti, where a single event absolutely devastated the economy.

Asia also recorded a significant number of disasters. Across the same period, the continent has a list of 3,068 individual events. These are spread between China (577), India (321), the Philippines (304) and Indonesia (278), just to name a few.

To see a full list of the most significant natural disasters throughout the past two decades, visit: https://www.comparethemarket.com.au/home-contents-insurance/natural-disasters/

For original article, see https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2112/S00238/haitis-earthquake-the-worlds-most-economically-devastating.htm

[Photo above from The Conversation: A woman walks through the shattered streets of Port-au-Prince a few weeks after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake slammed the country, which has still not recovered despite billions of dollars being spent. Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo.]

Of related interest: “A trail of destruction: The economies destroyed by natural disasters”
Phillip Portman, Compare the Market, June 29, 2021
https://www.comparethemarket.com.au/home-contents-insurance/natural-disasters

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