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Poverty and Crime Statistics in Costa Rica

Poverty and Crime Statistics in Costa Rica

These 2 concepts are highly related to each other. In Costa Rica, the economic affectation of the pandemic left around 25% of the population unemployed. The saddest part is that poverty and crime increased under these circumstances. Organized crime groups started recruiting desperate people and violence gang-related increased as well.


To all this is added that the education system is ruined due to constant suspension by teachers strikes and the pandemic. Some of the students don’t have the resources needed to study virtually. 


Here is a graphic showing poverty scales in Costa Rica:

Here’s a graphic showing unemployment in Costa Rica:

unemployment costa rica

Police organizations don’t have the amount of laws, men or weapons to fight the rise of criminal activity related to unemployment and poverty. During the pandemic, street assaults and robberies decreased but organized crimes related to drugs trafficking have arisen. In 2021, only in Puntarenas, 1 homicide each 5 days were registered so they reached in 3 months the amount of homicides of half of the 2020 in that same province.


On the other hand, statistics show that places with less scholarliness are also the most violent and in poverty of the country. This is mainly because people don’t have the opportunities to work in formal jobs but they still have bills to pay.


Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, the digital gap closes so many doors for kids and teenagers right now for these 2 years of virtual classes. Education became an exclusive luxury causing the increase of infant poverty, youth unemployment and discrimination against the most vulnerable population. Besides the repercussions related to mental health (in 2020, attempt of suicides in teenagers were 179.4 for every 100.000 persons)  and domestic violence(in 2020, 12% more legal complaints related compared to 2019). Luckily, since 2022, students have come back to schools and are showing great improvement, not only academically but also in the mentioned edges. 


Costa Rica’s Education Ministry reported that 63% of the students reported issues of accessibility to devices and the internet while receiving virtual classes.  


When there’s poverty in a country, violence always arises somehow and crime only impoverishes more. Government needs to focus the efforts better to fight them together if the circumstances are really going to change.  Starting with the fact that education loses priority when there’s a bad environment, the salaries in conflictive zones are lower and there is a significant lack of jobs, if an independent worker is a robbery victim, they lose the tools needed to work and it is very difficult for them to recover what was taken.


With the reactivation of Costa Rica’s economy since the pandemic and president change, the country has a real chance to fight crime and poverty with different approaches but the first thing that’s needed is jobs and strong policies against organized agrupations of criminals. Once they start working on that, everything will be getting better at its own pace. 


Karen Ebanks

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