This paper seeks to determine the effects that natural disasters have on per capita GDP and on the debt to GDP ratio in the Caribbean. Two types of natural disasters are studied –storms and floods– given their prevalence in the region, while considering the effects of both moderate and severe disasters. I use a vector autoregressive model with exogenous natural disasters shocks, in a panel of 12 Caribbean countries over a period of 40 years. The results show that both storms and floods have a negative effect on growth, and that debt increases with floods but not with storms. However, in a subsample I find that storms significantly increase debt in the short and long run. I also find weak evidence that debt relief contributes to ease the negative effects of storms on debt.
Ms. Nita Thacker, Mr. Sebastian Acevedo Mejia, and Mr. Roberto Perrelli
After earlier success, growth performance in most Caribbean countries has been disappointing since the early 1990s. With slower growth, output has fallen behind that of relevant comparator countries. This paper analyzes the growth experience of the Caribbean countries from a cross country perspective. Three findings stand out. First, the slowdown in growth is explained more by a decline in productivity rather than a lack of investment. Second, tourism has been a significant contributor to higher growth (through both capital accumulation and productivity) and lower output volatility, and in many countries there is scope for further expansion of this sector. Third, the small size and the fact that most of these countries are islands have limited growth. Policies aimed at improving productivity, further development of the tourism sector, and regional integration could pay dividends in terms of higher growth in the region.