Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Costa Rica
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

Photo: Flickr

Examining the South African Development Plan
The South African Development Plan (NDP) was created by the National Planning Commission (NPC), a South African group responsible for detailing a long-term vision and strategy for the country. The NPC includes 24 part-time members, along with a chairperson and deputy chairperson appointed by the President, based on their experiences and skills. The Commission is chaired by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.

The South African government adopted the National Development Plan as the foundation for a projected financial and socio-economic advancement strategy for the nation in December 2012.

The NPC built the NDP on six pillars:

  1. The mobilization of all South Africans
  2. Active participation of citizens in their community
  3. Development and inclusion of the economy
  4. The construction of essential human, physical and institutional abilities
  5. Creating a competent state, concerned with its own development
  6. Promoting effective leadership for the community

The central issues addressed in the South African National Development Plan address the country’s economic growth and the ability of that growth strategy to deliver a socioeconomic transformation for the country by 2030. The NPC aims to build consensus on the key obstacles to achieving objectives and what is necessary to overcome these obstacles. Implementing a shared long-term strategic framework within which more detailed planning can take place to advance the long-term goals set out in the NDP is a major goal. Furthermore, the plan hopes to create a basis for making choices about how best to use limited resources.

The purpose of the plan is to outline and achieve a decent standard of living for all citizens through the eradication of poverty and inequality. The components of a “decent standard of living,” as identified in the NDP, are: housing, water, electricity and sanitation; safe and dependable public transport; quality education and skills development; safety and security; quality healthcare; social protection; employment; recreation and leisure; a clean environment; and adequate nutrition.

If implemented successfully, the South African Development Plan will enable the country to reach an employment near 90%, no poverty and an annual economic growth rate of 5.4% by 2030.

Heather Hopkins
Photo: Flickr


Although one billion people have risen out of extreme poverty in the past 15 years, concerns still remain. Amid the success in this impressive reduction, there are new concerns over how those who have risen up out of extreme poverty are transitioning into a working middle class.

A new study from the Pew Research Center found that, despite slight growth in the population living on between $10-20 per day (middle income), the growth was largely concentrated in specific regions of the world. These hot spots of growth include China, Eastern Europe and South America. In areas where extreme poverty is extremely concentrated, such as in India, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central America, growth was minimal. Furthermore, there are still large inequalities in wealth distribution, as demonstrated in the areas that have the majority of middle and upper income populations—North America and Europe.

The study also notes that even in these specific areas of improved prosperity, the improvements in their standards of living and qualities of life did not improve as much as may have been expected. Another reason for small middle class growth, despite larger reductions in extreme poverty, is the volatility of climate change. Of the many factors that push people back into poverty, climate change is increasingly understood as the true threat, as changing weather brings its effects to light.

The lack of growth in the middle class has huge implications on individual countries and globally. The middle class was predicted to have grown, which would have increased national economic and political participation and boosted health outcomes.

Many experts associate the development of the middle class with a certain advantageous social structure that benefits the country as a whole. The middle class is generally able to focus less on strictly surviving, which enables them to make certain choices about the kind of lives they want to live, and to demand rights to make those choices, which leads to, all around, more developed nations.

Still, over 70% of the world’s population lives in poor to low-income levels, and progress still needs to be made. The disparities seen, despite progress, are calls to action. One of the biggest public health and developmental challenges we face today is that of inequality and inequity. Seeing such discrepancies on a global level is further proof that this is a problem that needs global attention.

The report brings attention to the fact that, although poverty reduction has been successful in some cases, on a more global and long-term level, changes need to be made. There need to be more effective strategies aimed at not only helping people come out of poverty, but also helping people stay out of poverty. We now know that the effects that we had hoped to see as a result of poverty reduction have many intermittent steps and barriers that also need to be addressed in order to see the kind of results that were predicted. The benefits of a growing middle class are achievable and progress in poverty reduction is the first step, but until the other barriers that new global middle class members face are also addressed, people, their nations, and the world will not see the maximum benefits.

Emma Dowd

Sources: BBC, Pew Global
Photo: Deccan Chronicle

Not all countries are created equally when it comes to raising children. While some countries have better opportunities for their mothers and children, including education, day care services, and early childhood development programs, others do not have proper healthcare or other resources to help keep mothers and babies healthy.

Each year, Save the Children releases the Mothers’ Index as part of their State of the World’s Mothers report. To determine the best places to be a mother, the study examines nations to judge how well their mothers and babies are cared for based on five areas: maternal health, children’s well-being, educational status, economic status, and political status.

Here are the organization’s results of the top 30 countries to be a mother:

30. United States
29. Luxembourg
28. Poland
27. Lithuania
26. Belarus
25. Israel
24. Czech Republic
23. United Kingdom
22. Canada
21. Estonia
20. Ireland
19. Greece
18. New Zealand
17. Italy
16. France
15. Singapore
14. Slovenia
13. Portugal
12. Switzerland
11. Austria
10. Australia
9. Germany
8. Belgium
7. Spain
6. Denmark
5. Netherlands
4. Iceland
3. Norway
2. Sweden
1. Finland

Many of these countries met all five standards set by Save the Children, with high expectations for the children’s school career, outstanding medical and health care for new and expecting mothers, a high per capita income level, and many job opportunities for mothers and women, particularly in leadership roles and in the government.

Katie Brockman

Source: Huffington Post

Can we really end global poverty? Earlier this year, World Bank announced that we can virtually end extreme global poverty by 2030, meaning that the number of people in the world living on $1.25 per day or less would be reduced to 3%.

But while that would be a huge victory for the world, we should set our standards higher. Right now, extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 per day, and poverty is $2 per day. But even many of those with $2 to live each day don’t have access to other essentials such as drinking water and electricity. In rural areas of the poorest countries, 1 in 10 children die before their first birthday from easily preventable diseases, and $2 per day cannot afford these children the medication or vaccines they need.

Furthermore, the people who make more than $2 in poor countries (i.e. those not living in poverty) still have five times higher infant mortality rates than the poorest and most deprived areas of rich countries, which shows the gap between poverty in rich and poor nations.

Some economists suggest that the “global middle class” earns approximately $10 per day. But if we were to change the definition of “poverty” to living on less than $10, rather than $1.25 or $2 per day, we would find that 98% of people in sub-Saharan Africa would be living in poverty.

But is it really feasible to get everyone in the world living on more than $10 per day?

Economists crunched the numbers and say yes. By 2050, the population will be around 9 billion and global GDP will quadruple. They predict that the GDP related to getting everyone to the $10 per day mark would take less than 1/5 of the $300+ trillion output. In other words, it’s entirely possible if we raise our goals and fight harder to end global poverty. $1.25 will get most people the bare necessities they need to survive, but $10 will give them a much better standard of living.

Katie Brockman

Source Businessweek