10 economic facts about Cuba
On the heels of the announcement of the restoration of U.S.-Cuban
diplomatic relations on July 20, Cuba’s removal from the U.S. state
sponsors of terrorism list, and the re-opening of embassies in the two
countries, we mined the considerably large trove of recent Brookings
content to find some of the most interesting facts about Cuba. Read more
about Cuba here.
1. Cuba receives almost 100,000 barrels of oil a day from Venezuela.
The easing of diplomatic hostilities between the United States and Cuba
may work to lessen Cuban dependence on the Venezuelan regime, Ted
Piccone notes. Russian President Vladimir Putin also recently wrote off
$32 billion, 90 percent of the debt Cuba owed dating back to the Soviet era.
2. The aggregated gross national income per capita of Cuba is officially
$5,539, but the take home salary for most Cubans is around $20 a month.
While there is little publicly available data regarding individual
incomes, Richard Feinberg concludes, using a variety of indicators, that
40 percent of the Cuban labor force falls within a broadly defined
middle class, though consumption remains depressed due to low government
3. Less than five percent of Cubans have access to the Internet.
While demand is increasing for American cultural and telecommunications
products, companies like Netflix and Google are working on long-term
plans to find their way into the country’s economy. The first step in
this process came in early February, according to Darrell West, when
Netflix announced it would begin streaming in the island nation.
4. The Cuban government authorizes only 201 different categories of
activities for self-employment.
This creates a problem in forging economic ties, Ted Piccone writes,
since “U.S. importers can only engage in transactions with independent
Cuban entrepreneurs” while Cuba fails to expand the list, excluding
“huge swaths of Cuba’s human capital” from trade with the U.S.
5. More than two-thirds of the 2 million Cubans and Cuban-Americans in
the United States live in Florida; 18 percent of Miami residents
identify as Cuban.
Audrey Singer explains how these demographic distributions play a key
role in normalizing relations with Cuba. Currently, a visa lottery
system allows 20,000 Cubans to emigrate every year to the United States,
while others try to make the trek by sea—the U.S. Coast Guard stopped
500 such potential immigrants in December 2014 alone. Thousands more
cross the border where they can claim asylum and get expedited green
6. New Cuban hotspots can process 1 megabit per second, far below the
average U.S. speed.
Darrell West examines the growth of Internet access in Cuba, noting that
improved relations with the U.S. could relax restrictions on better IT
7. The average age of the Cuban population will increase from 54.7 today
to 67.7 in 2025.
Juan Triana Cordoví and Ricardo Torres Pérez note that “most growth in
developing countries in the last 50 years has been the exact opposite,
spurred by a growing youth population and workforce. Together, these
elements coupled with the current economic model make setting Cuba on a
sustainable long-term growth path an immense challenge.”
8. 90 percent of Cubans own their own homes.
The high homeownership rate on the island is supported by President Raúl
Castro’s economic reform agenda, which attempts to “preserve socialism
while introducing new forms of market-based mechanisms,” writes Ted
Piccone. In addition to the ability to buy and sell property, Cuban
citizens can now open small businesses, have cell phones, and form
cooperatives both on and off of farms.
9. Americans are able to bring back $400 worth of goods from
Cuba—including $100 in cigars and rum.
Richard Feinberg reacts to the increasingly open ties between the United
States and Cuba and discusses the implications for citizens in both
10. 68 percent of Cuban-Americans favor normalized relations between
Cuba and the U.S.
Katharine Moon also points out that 90 percent of younger
Cuban-Americans favor normalization. The divergence between older
hardliners and a conciliatory new generation is key in approaching other
diplomatic challenges, such as re-evaluating relations with North Korea,
Nicholas Buchta contributed to this post.
Managing Editor, New Digital Products
Source: 10 economic facts about Cuba | Brookings Institution –