Haiti vs Dominican republic

January 21st, 2010 at 11:48 am by David Farrar

Many people do not realise this, but is not an island state. It shares Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

I find this interesting, as it allows you to do a reasonable comparison of how different policies, quality of governance etc have gone in each country. It’s a bit like North vs South Korea, or East Germany vs West Germany.

So here are the basic states for Haiti first, and the Dominican Republic second:

Independence: 1804 vs 1865
From: France vs Spain (was briefly ruled by Haiti also from 1821 to 1844)
Area: 27,750 sq km vs 48,400 sq km
Population: 10.0 mil vs 10.1 mil
GDP PPP per capita: US$1,317 vs US$8,672

So the Dominican Republic (once a colony of Haiti) has wealth per capita a massive seven times greater than Haiti.

Why do people think this is the case?

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49 Responses to “Haiti vs Dominican republic”

  1. Grant Michael McKenna (1,160 comments) says:

    Bad governance- and bad trade; the sanctions against it in the early days and the need to repay France for the assets seized at liberation all slowed it down- but in the last forty years the main factor has been “government-to-government aid” as well as U.S. intervention in that country’s politics- prompted by the collapse of Haiti each time. Check the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/opinion/15brooks.html?ref=opinion

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  2. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    1. Voodooism.

    2. Rapacious “fee” charged by France for independence.

    3. Coups, dictators and foreign interventions.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/14/the_unluckiest_country?page=full

    Haiti’s chronic impoverishment began at its birth in 1804, when, having overthrown its French rulers in a bloody, 12-year slave revolt, the newborn nation was subjected to crippling blockades and embargoes. This economic strangulation continued until 1825, when France offered to lift embargoes and recognize the Haitian Republic if the latter would pay restitution to France—for loss of property in Haiti, including slaves—of 150 million gold francs. The sum, about five times Haiti’s export revenue for 1825, was brutal, but Haiti had no choice: Pay up or perish over many more years of economic embargo, not to mention face French threats of invasion and reconquest. To pay, Haiti borrowed money at usurious rates from France, and did not finish paying off its debt until 1947, by which time its fate as the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country had been well and truly sealed.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-01-14/why-haitis-earthquake-is-frances-problem/

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  3. sHr0oMaN (26 comments) says:

    Methinks your GDP PPP per capita comparison is wrong:

    from CIA world book entry for Haiti: GDP – per capita (PPP): $1,300 (2008 est.)

    whereas for the Dominican Republic: GDP – per capita (PPP): $8,200 (2008 est.)

    I think you may have an extra 1.

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  4. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Oh, and I forgot the most important one – as Pat Robertson pointed out, Haiti “made a pact with the devil”, so this is all really just down to god, yet again.

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  5. Bullion (68 comments) says:

    I know that the Dominican Republic has looked after its environment far better than Haiti. Environmental degradation has lead to poor farm land and poor water resources in Haiti. There have been coups and unstable Government for some time as well.

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  6. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    Ones at the left end and ones at the right end!

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  7. Johnboy (16,651 comments) says:

    “more years of economic embargo, not to mention face French threats of invasion and reconquest. To pay, Haiti borrowed money at usurious rates from France, and did not finish paying off its debt until 1947, ”

    Interesting facts there MNIJ. Do you have any dates for when the surrender monkies will have repaid their debts to the filthy capitalist Americans and the perfidious Poms for saving them from Hitler. Must be sometime in the 25th century I should think. :)

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  8. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    You might check out the differences, if any, in building codes. How many building collapsed in the Dom R?

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  9. Matt Long (90 comments) says:

    The usual reasons are at work, compare NZ Verse Australia, Mexico versus USA…

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  10. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    “To pay, Haiti borrowed money at usurious rates from France, and did not finish paying off its debt until 1947, by which time its fate as the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country had been well and truly sealed.”

    thats no fucking excuse. they’ve had 60 years to get their shit together.

    i remember Clinton was close to sending in troops. cant remember why. think its just a corrupt shit hole.

    im sure the yank can rebuild it though. once they have pumped in their 500 billion. PLUS the $1 million from china.

    How much has france donated?

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  11. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    The Dominican Republic has had a very patchy history economically. It was tourism that made the huge difference. There was a stable platform in which Spanish Hospitality companies could make worthwhile long term investments.

    Voodoo is also quite prevalent in the DR, but certainly not to the same numbing degree that Haiti has suffered from. US Foreign policy has really been pro DR and covertly anti Haiti. Cuba and the whole deal surrounding their revolution and affiliations shaped the US position. At the end of the day Haiti is simply uninvestable in. Just as an aside, the demographic profile in the two countries is quite different. Whites have never been allowed into the gene pool there. Unlike the British, Dutch, and Spanish colonies where fraternisation between slaves and owners was commonplace. The French seemingly never participated, but were really brutal as their ‘kick’.

    You will notice in the Digital streaming from Haiti right now ,their society has very few half caste or mullato types. Education was also never prioritised. White Europeans have a lot to answer for, in their conduct in the old slave trading days. Barcelona was built out of proceeds from Cuban profits. Madrid from Mexico. The best hope for the Haitians is that the US does actually occupy the country for a decade. The French seem quite miffed by that prospect, but the French would be VERY unwelcome back in the Country as re-occupiers. Bit like Britain going back into Zim.

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  12. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    The Dominican Republic owes its success to Economic Liberalism. That, and 1.3 million of their countrymen live in the USA and the money they repatriate to the Republic accounts for 10% of its economy.

    Haiti is the only nation in the area that speaks French. It also sounds like they have had worse luck with dictators, and their “elections” are a lot dodgier, compared to Dom. Republic.

    At least according to wikipedia…

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  13. Sam (502 comments) says:

    DPF – was that a genuine question or were you fishing for partisan sport?

    Anyway, there are a host of reasons, as mentioned above, and including the aftermath of the US occupation:

    “Scholars agree that Haiti was in much better shape after the occupation than before, but some accuse the US of estabishing a “shaky” foundation that left the country with a doomed financial structure. This was due to a 1922 $40 million loan owed to the US as well as the country’s national treasury and to the Banque Nationale owned by a New York bank.[33] The result was a financial system that siphoned the country’s wealth to offshore creditors instead of reinvesting it in the country’s economy.”

    Also, it seems that a strong and principled central government has been needed, to address issues such as education and resource management:

    “Of Haiti’s 8.7 million inhabitants, the literacy rate of 65.9% is the lowest in the region.[which?] Haiti counts 15,200 primary schools, of which 90% are non-public and managed by the communities, religious organizations or NGOs.[77] The enrollment rate for primary school is 67%, and fewer than 30% reach 6th grade. Secondary schools enroll 20% of eligible-age children. Charity organizations like Food for the Poor and Haitian Health Foundation are currently working on building schools for children as well as providing them necessary school supplies.”

    “In 1925, Haiti was lush, with 60% of its original forest covering the lands and mountainous regions. Since then, the population has cut down an estimated 98% of its original forest cover for use as fuel for cookstoves, and in the process has destroyed fertile farmland soils, contributing to desertification.”

    Some might argue that these last two factors suggest that economic liberalisation might not have been a sufficient mantra for economic success…

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  14. Sam (502 comments) says:

    PS – the above is all c’n’p from Wikipedia, so could also be a load of shite…

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  15. Sonny Blount (1,783 comments) says:

    “In 1925, Haiti was lush, with 60% of its original forest covering the lands and mountainous regions. Since then, the population has cut down an estimated 98% of its original forest cover for use as fuel for cookstoves, and in the process has destroyed fertile farmland soils, contributing to desertification.”

    Some might argue that these last two factors suggest that economic liberalisation might not have been a sufficient mantra for economic success…

    Economic liberilisation is closely tied with improved environmental stewardship. It seems people take better care of private land than they do public.

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  16. kowtow (8,524 comments) says:

    Here’s an article off Arts and Lit which seems almost custom made to answer DPF s question.

    http://www.esquire.com/features/best-and-brightest-2009/world-poverty-map-1209

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  17. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    They are in a bad way because of stuff that happened in the early 1800s? That’s the same problem the Maori have.

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  18. david (2,557 comments) says:

    Perhaps KiwiGreg, but you won’t find manu tangata whenua willing to look in that particular mirror and ask “what would we be like if we could have run things our way since then?

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  19. fatman43us (166 comments) says:

    Remember Papa Doc and Baby Doc and the help they received from the tonton macoute? The stepping in of other countries once the change came, and the vitual takeover of the place by the Clintons was not a great help either.

    People are best left to develop their own systems, taking aid from others to initiate projects, not as some form of eternal life support.

    By the look of things the USA through beneficent aid, and a sincere and deep desire to help will end up as usual producing another basket case run by the indolent and greedy. It has never been, and never will be a healthy outlook/

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  20. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Jarryd Diamond’s book “Collapse” has a great chapter detailing Haiti and the Dominican Republic detailing how one country has embarked on a sustainable economy and environment (Dominica) and the other has denuded itself of all its nautrual resources and environmental capital to the point where its society and environment is barely sustainable so it is wholly dependent upon aid (Haiti). This despite having the same climate and resources.

    Really good read if you are thinking about the effects of poor government.

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  21. Sam Buchanan (501 comments) says:

    After independence, Haitians opted for small farming over a plantation system – basically they chose freedom over national economic development. Good choice at the time, but probably helped to create a system in which throwing off corrupt governments and foreign occupiers was difficult.

    Recently, Haiti has been the total poster boy for neo-liberalism, throwing open their markets to foreign competition, which has pretty much destroyed all but the most basic subsistence farming economy – chicken industry clobbered by cheap imports, sugar mills closed, cheap imported rice displacing local production etc. Hence massive poverty.

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  22. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Mike S >Still–why should Haitians complain? Sure, we stole 40 percent of Haiti’s national wealth for 32 years. But we let them keep 60 percent.

    Not sure who you mean by “we”, since you’re talking about “U.S. Marines imposed harsh military occupation” who “murdered Haitians patriots”. But I can’t help noticing the similarities between US military occupation and the NZ Labour Party’s taxation policies.

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  23. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    So it’s all the fault of the Frogs? I can live with that.

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  24. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    ” Ted Rall puts it well:”

    About the most extreme left commentator ever given regular mainstream media exposure.

    The credibility of a jackal.

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  25. Jman (84 comments) says:

    Haiti: Ethnic groups 95.0% black, 5% mulatto and white

    Dominican Republic: Ethnic groups 73% Multiracial, 16% White, 11% Black

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  26. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Looks like jman’s got it nailed.

    Whatever you do, don’t be born black!

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  27. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Luc – he might mean that the Dominican Republic seems better integrated, as evidenced by the intermarriage rates. Where Haiti clearly isn’t. That might also be a proxy for people feeling historical grievances instead of getting on with their lives.

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  28. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    The big idea in Kowtow’s link is free elections. i stopped reading there because I remembered Haiti’s Aristide’s free election win, and prompt overthrow by the US when he came up with his big idea of “spreading the wealth” ie stop the money disappearing into the black hole of US corporate interests.

    And I also remembered the free election win of Hamas in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, and we all know how the US welcomed that win.

    Then there is all the non-free election winners we hug closely: Mubarak, Karzai, until recently, Mugabe, etc etc

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  29. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    PaulL, indeed, he might. Then again…

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  30. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    As Bchapman said, Jared Diamond has a very good chapter on this topic in Collapse. Haiti has had government, corruption, bad farming methods and forest clearing on hills. Lots of soil erosion etc. Haiti was the better half of the island but a lot of the soil has been washed away, apparently.

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  31. Sam Buchanan (501 comments) says:

    I find Collapse a bit ho hum as Diamond lets his thesis run away with him. Haiti’s poor environmental record is as much a caused by poverty as causing it.

    As far as the racial profile goes, it’s hard to be ‘better integrated’ in a society almost entirely of one ethnic group. I don’t see any particular sign of Haitians concerning themselves with historical grievances – they have plently of recent grievances to occupy themselves with.

    Haiti was rather isolated in the 19th century – few skilled immigrants settled there – partially as a black republic wasn’t attractive to foreigners, partially because Haiti had a (fully justified!) fear of foreign influence. This fear of further foreign invasions led to a government policy of military conscription, which was another factor in Haiti’s lack of development – much of it’s population (men at least) keeping well away from municipal areas of the country where the government held sway.

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  32. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Although I have been reluctant to continue commenting here due to the incessant vitriol that passes for “debate,” I cannot let Luc’s 3:42 PM comment go unremarked.

    Contrary to your assertion, Luc, the US did not overthrow Aristide. In fact, the contrary occurred After Aristide was overthrown by the military junta led by general Raoul Cedras in 1991, the US refused to recognise the new regime, gave Aristide asylum, then eventually mobilized troops in concert with heavy diplomatic pressure in a successful effort to force Cedras to resign and allow Aristide to return to office in 1994. The US then changed the mission of its massed troops from a combat operation to a peace-keeping and nation-building task, a deployment of some 5000 troops over several rotations in Haiti that ended in 1995 when UN peacekeepers took over the mission, where they remain today (Aristide completed his first term in 1996). “Operation Restore Democracy,” as the US military mission was called, was the first time in US history that militarily backed a left-leaning elected president over a right-wing military junta (the US repudiation of the June 2009 Honduran coup is the second time that the US supported a leftist elected president over right wing coup-mongerers, although this time with little enthusiasm and no military pressure).

    In 2000 Aristide was re-elected in a vote marred by the refusal of other parties to compete and a 10 percent voter turnout. After years of challenges to the legitimacy of his rule, in 2004 Aristide, also beset by multiple charges of corruption and official malfeasance, was forced out of office by another military coup. The US provided an aircraft to fly him into exile, which he much later called a “kidnapping” and blamed the US and France for orchestrating the coup. To date there is no proof of that charge. he is now living quite comfortably in South Africa, with a lifestyle that seems unlikely given his status as an ex-priest (he was defrocked) on a former president’s pension.

    I know the details of the 1994 US intervention in Haiti because, as Regional Policy Analyst for the Inter-American Region in the Office of the US Secretary of Defense at that time, I was privy to the planning, staging and execution of Operation Restore Democracy, and have followed its sequels ever since. You, of course, could have just done a Wiki search and found out as much.

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  33. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Ouch. Nice reply Paul G.

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  34. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Aw, c’mon Pauls, this is Kiwiblog! Since when do we let facts get in the way of a good throwaway line?

    Anyway, thanks for the info. I appreciate alternative perspectives, and yours needs to be considered alongside others.

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  35. tom hunter (4,897 comments) says:

    LUC’s WORLD DICTIONARY:

    FACT:
    An alternative perspective, which needs to be considered alongside others.

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  36. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    ” Although I have been reluctant to continue commenting here due to the incessant vitriol that passes for “debate,” ”

    Of course “Kiwipolitico” is completely free of such vitriol.

    Yeah right.

    The language may be more politically correct, but the contempt and disdain for alternative views is as powerful as is seen anywhere that leftists gather.

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  37. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Luc: I hear what you are saying about facts, hence was surprised by your comment.

    Russell: I am writing here in a private non-KP capacity, but I do appreciate your supplying the plug for it.

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  38. GNZ (228 comments) says:

    Sam,
    didnt they spend the 19th century trying to conquor the Dominican republic with that army? Maybe their army wasn’t entirely meant for defense.

    Anyway if desperation for independance and fear of foreign invasion results in you being far worse off than pretty much any other country in the world – one has to wonder if the benefits are worth the price and if you havent made some stupid choices somewhere along the line.

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  39. tom hunter (4,897 comments) says:

    Although I have been reluctant to continue commenting here due to the incessant vitriol that passes for “debate,”

    Ahem!

    You are being either willfully disingeneous or are ignorant about the extremist right in the US. There is a disloyal opposition with ultra-nationalist, if not racist beliefs openly involved in the anti-Obama “crusades.” Think the likes of the John Birch Society and Minutemen, to say nothing of their more notorious fellow travelers. They may not be a majority of the opposition to health care, etc., but they help sway the public debate into unreason (see the Obama is the anti-Christ meme discussed in a later post). They would be laughable except that now, again in opposition, the GOP and its media acolytes have given sotto voce to their views in order to skew the debate in their favor. Shouting about “socialism,” “communism” and other such labels simply obscures the discussion about specific policy (such as health care). It certainly does not illuminate it. Glen Beck is a good example of the syndrome.

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  40. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Tom: I was referring to the use of ad hominums, expletives and general “flaming.” The quoted comment, while blunt, comes nowhere close to the standard definition of “vitriol.”

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  41. Southern Raider (1,831 comments) says:

    No different to what Venezuela is going to becom like now that Chavez has started to nationalise all the supermarkets.

    Will be like Zimbabwe except instead of the Govt mates running farms and stuffing it up it will be Chavez’s communist mates trying to run Foodtown.

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  42. kiwitoffee (383 comments) says:

    Paul G. Buchanan:

    Shouldn’t that be ‘ad hominem’ in the singular and maybe even ‘ad homini’ in the plural?!

    It’s about 100 years since I last read Latin.

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  43. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    kiwitoffee: mea culpa.

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  44. V (720 comments) says:

    Dominican Republic has hotter women! Explains everything. :->

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  45. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Thank you for your assistance, Tom.

    As I said, alternative perspectives are welcome, and here is one a little different to Paul Buchanan’s, and I admit influenced my rather hasty posting on this matter as I was preparing to go to work.

    I also admit to being more than a little cynical about US supposed good intentions when so many countries have suffered grievously from these good intentions, IMHO, of course.

    We all know that the view from the ground may be different from that from above. I recall the many interviews with grunts in Iraq who all proclaimed they were at war with Iraq to avenge 9/11, which we all know (and most of us knew then) Iraq had nothing to do with.

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  46. Bob R (1,377 comments) says:

    Different average cognitive ability may be a factor.

    “A large amount of studies published in the last two decades has shown that cognitive ability levels of societies are relevant for the development of positively valued aspects of peoples and countries. Following an economic research tradition “human capital” is relevant for economic growth and wealth (Hanushek & Kimko, 2000; Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002, 2006; Jones & Schneider, 2006; Weede, 2006; Rindermann, 2008a). In addition, cognitive ability of nations hasa positive impact on political development, in that it helps building up democracy, the rule of law and political liberty (Simpson, 1997; Rindermann, 2008b). Intelligence, knowledge and the intelligent use of knowledge also have beneficial effects on health, for instance they act as a brake on the spread of HIV (Oesterdiekhoff & Rindermann, 2007; Lakhanpal & Ram, 2008; Rindermann & Meisenberg, 2009). Finally, cognitive competence is relevant for the development of modernity as a societal and especially as a cultural phenomenon consisting of education, autonomy, liberty, morality and rationality (Habermas, 1985/1981; Meisenberg, 2004; Oesterdiekhoff, 2008; Lynn, Harvey & Nyborg, 2009). Societies at a higher ability level develop more complex, more evidence-based, more ethical and more rational world views.

    For some scholars like Georg Oesterdiekhoff (2000) or Michael Hart (2007) intelligence is the
    driving force of history.

    These broad effects at the cross-national data level are backed in different societies by results at the individual level for job performance and wealth (Bacharach & Baumeister, 1998; Schmidt
    & Hunter, 2004; Irwing & Lynn, 2006; Rindermann & Thompson, 2009), for tolerance, civic political attitudes and participation in elections (Herrnstein & Murray, 1994; Denny & Doyle, 2008; Deary, Batty & Gale, 2008), for health behavior and health (Goldman & Smith, 2002; Gottfredson, 2004), moral judgment (Piaget, 1997/1932; Kohlberg, 1987) and more rational
    world views (Oesterdiekhoff, 2000; Nyborg, 2009).”

    ‘The impact of smart fractions, cognitive ability of politicians and average competence of peoples on social development’ Rindermann et al

    Talent Development & Excellence Vol. 1, No. 1, 2009, 3-25

    http://iratde.org/issues/1-2009/tde_…mann_et_al.pdf

    Averages (based on 2006 PISA score):

    Dominican Republic IQ 84

    Haiti IQ 72

    http://www.v-weiss.de/table.html

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  47. mic.albert (1 comment) says:

    RRM Said that dominicans working in the US accounted for 10% of D.R. GDP as one of the reasons for the difference but did not consider that Haitians also living in the US and in Dominican Rep. account for 35% of their GDP!!!

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