What were the economic effects of the Cuban Revolution? Were living conditions improved for the average Cuban? I'm looking for objective criteria like average income, wealth distribution, life expectancy, literacy and similar.
The economic effects of the Cuban Revolution were somewhat of a mixed bag, and depending on the timeline you are interested in the immediate impact was negative, whereas on a longer timeline it was more positive.
The following paraphrases, and quotes relevant parts from Jose Pérez's work Cuba: Between Reform & Revolution
The loss of so much skilled labor led to a serious decline in services because of the shortage of expertise that could aid in the central planning undertaken by Castro's government. Additionally, the US trade embargo against Cuba that began in February 1962 did not help the situation.
The Cuban economy was hit terribly hard by the revolution. The following paraphrases and quotes relevant parts from Jan Rogozinski's work A Brief History of the Caribbean
The Cuban economy would at first shun sugar and tobacco production as they were seen as relics of the country's colonial past. This led to a huge rise in Cuba's trade deficit, mostly with the USSR and Soviet Bloc nations. Cuba would go back to tobacco and sugar in 1965 out of need. The dismal state of the economy was not good, but as Pérez points out there were some positive outcomes eventually:
The caloric intake of the average Cuban increased after the revolution, but since this was due to rationing there was little to no diversity in the diet. Pérez makes the claim that by the 1970's malnutrition had been all but wiped out.
Similarly, education increased so that the percentage of the population completing sixth grade increased from 20% in 1953 to 32% in 1970.
So all in all, there was a large impact. The immediate impact was very negative on the country. This was a combination of the exodus of people, and the hit to the economy. After time the impact became more positive, but is somewhat of a mixed bag. People's life expectancy went up, caloric intake increased, per capita income was redistributed, and literacy went up. These increases were not without cost.
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