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The Odious Haitian Independence Debt


  • Gulati, Mitu
  • Oosterlinck, Kim
  • Panizza, Ugo
  • Weidemaier, Mark


This article introduces the Haitian Independence Debt of 1825 to the odious debt and sovereign debt literatures. We argue that the legal doctrine of odious debt is surprisingly and perhaps indefensibly narrow possibly because of historical contingency rather than any underlying logic or principle. The story of the Haitian Independence Debt of 1825 serves as an illustrative case study. In the context of telling that story, we provide estimates of the evolution of Haiti's external debt-to-GDP ratio over 1825-2020, and discuss the implications of the independence debt for the economy of Haiti. We conclude by discussing the implications of Haiti's Independence Debt for the doctrine of odious debt and the possibilities for Haiti to recover compensation.

Suggested Citation

  • Gulati, Mitu & Oosterlinck, Kim & Panizza, Ugo & Weidemaier, Mark, 2021. "The Odious Haitian Independence Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 16413, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:16413

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mitchener, Kris James & Oosterlinck, Kim & Weidenmier, Marc D. & Haber, Stephen, 2015. "Victory or repudiation? Predicting winners in civil wars using international financial markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 310-319.
    2. Eberhardt, Markus & Presbitero, Andrea F., 2015. "Public debt and growth: Heterogeneity and non-linearity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 45-58.
    3. Simon Hinrichsen, 2021. "The Iraq sovereign debt restructuring," Capital Markets Law Journal, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 95-114.
    4. Oosterlinck, Kim & Ureche-Rangau, Loredana & Vaslin, Jacques-Marie, 2014. "Baring, Wellington and the Resurrection of French Public Finances Following Waterloo," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(4), pages 1072-1102, December.
    5. Laura Jaramillo & Cemile Sancak, 2009. "Why Has the Grass Been Greener on One Side of Hispaniola? A Comparative Growth Analysis of the Dominican Republic and Haiti," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 56(2), pages 323-349, June.
    6. Ugo Panizza & Andrea F. Presbitero, 2013. "Public Debt and Economic Growth in Advanced Economies: A Survey," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 149(II), pages 175-204, June.
    7. Olivier Accominotti & Marc Flandreau & Riad Rezzik, 2011. "The spread of empire: Clio and the measurement of colonial borrowing costs," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(2), pages 385-407, May.
    8. Mitchener, Kris James & Weidenmier, Marc D., 2010. "Supersanctions and sovereign debt repayment," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 19-36, February.
    9. Joseph Blocher & Mitu Gulati & Kim Oosterlinck, 2020. "King Leopold's Bonds and the Odious Debts Mystery," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/281135, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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    More about this item


    Debt and Growth; Haiti; Odious debt;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean


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