Haiti Table of Contents
Residential street, Port-au-Prince
Courtesy United States Agency for International Development
The urban lower class, which made up about 15 percent of the total population in the early 1980s, was concentrated in Port-au- Prince and the major coastal towns. Increased migration from rural areas contributed greatly to the growth of this class. Industrial growth was insufficient, however, to absorb the labor surplus produced by the burgeoning urbanization; unemployment and underemployment were severe in urban areas. The urban lower class was socially heterogeneous, and it had little class consciousness. One outstanding characteristic of this group was its commitment to education. Despite economic hardships, urban lower-class parents made a real effort to keep their children in school throughout the primary curriculum. Through education and political participation, some members of the lower class achieved mobility into the middle class.
The poorest strata of the urban lower class lived under Haiti's worst sanitary and health conditions. According to the World Bank (see Glossary), one-third of the population of Portau -Prince lived in densities of more than 1,000 people per hectare in 1976. The poorest families consumed as few as seven liters of water per person, per day, for cooking, drinking, and cleaning, and they spent about one-fifth of their income to obtain it. For many of these families, income and living conditions worsened in the 1980s.
Data as of December 1989