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Human Development in Costa Rica

Human Development in Costa Rica

The UN makes every year a Human Development indicator that shows percentages regarding general health, education and economic earnings instead of only focusing on money. By 2019 Costa Rica ranked in 62th place worldwide with a 0.81 index for Human Development. 


Being more specific, this metric wants to see things like if people are living a worthy, long and healthy life. Life expectancy in Costa Rica reaches 80.28 years and the mortality rate drops very low with 5.15%


Costa Rica, in addition, produces about 1.6 tons of CO2 per capita, which is very little considering all the other countries. This looks well and it is considered when processing the data for Human Development.


UCR also generates statistics regarding Human Development but at the level of the 82 cantons in the country using the same margins as the UN. The discoveries are very shocking because it shows the social inequality that Costa Rica really faces. We will provide some examples that have been found in those studies:


  • 8 cantons register bigger human development in men and only 1 in women. 
  • Cantons of genre inequality went from 6 to 8 in just 1 year (from 2018 to 2019).
  • By 2020, cantons with the higher poverty index are located near border areas and indigenous reserves.
  • The province of Limon has improved all the metrics from 2018 to 2020.
  • The province of Heredia has worsened all the metrics from 2018 to 2020.
  • The percentage of female heads of household living in poverty is 48.6% and 51% in extreme poverty.


Create ways to fight effectively poverty and decent jobs is key to get this social gap to be every day more and more reduced but government entities and private companies need to work together to make this a reality. 


When you see the big portions of data and see general progress in Costa Rica, sadly, the people that’s suffering get invisibilized by the same system that’s supposed to protect them.


On the other hand, Costa Rica’s pride and joy is public health insurance. Regular employees contribute every month with 10.5% of their salaries to La Caja (public health insurance administrator) but if anyone catches a cold or needs surgery or lifetime medical treatments, it is not necessary to pay extra for those. With your insurance as an employee, you are able to cover with insurance your children, spouse and even your parents. 


Employees of public or private business are directly insured but La Caja offers different options for retirees, foreigners, contractors, independent workers, students and more so everyone can be under their protection and have access to the best medical attention and medicines available in the country.


Even with social insurance, Costa Rica has various private medical practices and private insurances in different ranges of prices so attention can be faster and to have access to medicines that might not be available with La Caja.


Some doctors work with the public insurance during the day and have private practices in the afternoon or evening hours. That’s called mixed medicine and the benefits are that these kinds of doctors can make fast private appointments but send the medicines through the public insurance and follow up appointments can be in public hospitals so the patient don’t have to pay for those.


Karen Ebanks

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