The Impact of Covid-19 in Central America and the Caribbean - Evidence to Date

This study uses changes in the Human Development Index (HDI) between 2019 and 2021 as an early (and incomplete) indicator of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the countries of Central America and the Caribbean (CAC). The HDI, which has been published annually by the United Nations Development Programme since 1990, combines indices of the purchasing power of average national incomes (measured in US dollars), life expectancy, and average years of schooling, for each country. Except for Guyana and Nicaragua, the HDI score for every country in the CAC declined. The Bahamas, a tourism-based economy, suffered the smallest loss in HDI, and other tourism-based economies were scattered all along the spectrum, with Belize among the worst affected. The countries whose principal exports are manufactured goods fared better than the agricultural exporters, while of the three mineral exporters, Guyana’s HDI score rose, Trinidad-Tobago’s loss was in the middle of the range, and Suriname was the worst affected country in the region. Two countries whose principal source of foreign currency is remittances suffered moderate losses. The countries with the lowest death tolls from the pandemic recorded lesser impacts; these were mostly island economies who were protected from the worst ravages of Covid-19 with the cessation of air travel when the pandemic was at its height.