Quantifying Cuba's Self-Employment

Monday, April 9, 2012
From The Economist to The Los Angeles Times, there's an apparent fascination with the Castro regime's self-employment licenses.

Perhaps it's because it fits into the media's narrative of Raul Castro as a "reformer."

However, as we've noted before, these self-employment licenses are hardly "new."

They are recycled from similar policies during the 1990's aimed at saving the dictatorship from economic collapse.

So just how extensive are today's self-employment licenses, as compared to the 1990s?

Let's quantify it.


During their peak in 1996, there were 209,606 licenses granted by the Castro regime.

Meanwhile, last week, the Castro regime announced it had now granted 371,200 licenses.

That's a net gain of 161,594 licenses in 16 years.

(Remember that these figures are always subject to the regime's whims and manipulations).

Calculate population growth during the last 16 years -- as stagnant as it is due to young people fleeing the island -- and the growth in licenses is essentially negligible.

That's not real change by any realm.