Costa Rica’s 4.8 million citizens enjoy a front-row view of the country’s picturesque coastal views and scenic landscapes. However, more recently, the country has been attracting more than just people looking to relocate for retirement and eco-tourists, as Costa Rica has been expanding a number of government programs in order to boost economy. In the text below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Costa Rica are presented.
Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Costa Rica
- The most thought-provoking fact about living conditions in Costa Rica is that it has one of the longest life expectancy rates in modern Southern America, prevalent among the poorest of Costa Rica’s citizens. On average, Costa Ricans live to be 77 years old, similar to people in the U.S. that live 77.4 years on average. Although there is a large development gap between these two countries, the long expectancy rate in Costa Rica has been attributed to the country’s health care system.
- Costa Rica’s universal health care system, known to many as the “Caja”, provides health care to 86 percent of Costa Ricans for a small monthly payment, which is based on monthly income. Under “Caja”, those covered enjoy a wide array of medical services offered in one of the network’s 30 hospitals and 250 clinics around the country. Even those who are not covered by “Caja”, services remain relatively low in cost.
- Compared to other civilized Central and Latin American nations, Costa Rica has one of the most developed economies and has one of the highest standards of living. It also has one of the lowest percentages of people in poverty compared to neighboring countries, being at 16 percent. Poverty is more common among those living in rural areas, those indignant to the nation and one-parent households.
- Around 24 percent of the country’s population is comprised of children under the age of 14. With an estimated one out of four children living below the poverty line, many of these children are put at risk for poverty conditions due to family and income instability. As a result, 36,000 children are left orphaned in Costa Rica.
- By defunding its military in 1948, Costa Rica was able to develop a high-quality public education system. Many benefit from the public institutions and it has even generated a higher rate of literacy among children. However, 30 percent of school-aged children do not attend school because of financial situations or low access in rural areas.
- Child labor serves a societal and cultural need in Costa Rica. In older rural societies, it is customary to find children working to support the overall need of the family, especially in the agricultural sector. In larger households, income must be earned more than one earner in order to survive. This is done by the males in the family where 9 percent of boys sacrifice education for the greater good of the family. Overall, 8 percent of school-aged children have no education.
- The coffee bean agriculture in Costa Rica is a large source of income for many, so much so that many abandon educational pursuits every year to participate in its profitable harvest. In order to pay for school supplies, teachers and students alike wake in the early morning hours to work the fields, exposing themselves to serious health conditions that pose a risk to still-developing bodies.
- Although there is no known cause or reason, there has been an outbreak of HIV and AIDS-related illness among children and teens. Costa Rica has the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases in Latin America. Experts suspect that the spread of the illness could be prevented with proper education and prevention methods.
- Costa Rican government has taken a proactive role in decreasing the number of people living in poverty. By implementing health care, job and environmental policies along with reducing inflation costs and seeking opportunities to grow the economy, the government was able to significantly decrease the number of people living in poverty. In the 1990s, 11 percent of the population was living on $1.90 a day. That number has now been reduced to 2 percent of the total population.
- The average American wage earner makes $12,900 a year while the poorest 20 percent of Costa Ricans earn $100 a month. In order to meet the nutritional value someone needs for a healthy life, a person must spend an average of $90 on food per month. Costa Ricans spend 30 percent of their yearly earnings on food and drink, which is roughly around $300 a year, or $780 less than they should be spending on adequate nutrition.
While poverty is still an issue that many Costa Ricans are facing, the policy makers of Costa Rica are taking an active role in trying to alleviate this issue and improving the living conditions of citizens. With life-changing initiatives, the number of people living in poverty has gone down drastically while setting an example for others to do the same.
– Catherine Wilson