In many respects, the welfare of Costa Rica is at the same level as in the world’s rich countries. The foundations for the welfare state were laid in the 1940s, when a social insurance system was introduced. Nowadays, all income earners and their families are covered by a well-developed welfare system that includes, among other things, sickness and accident insurance as well as pensions.
Virtually all Costa Ricans also have access to health centers, and hospital care is also of a high standard. Child mortality is low.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Costa Rica, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
At the same time, there is a change towards greater social stratification. Since the turn of the millennium, Costa Rica has been one of the countries in Latin America where the social gaps in society have increased most. Economic growth has largely benefited the wealthy.
Every fifth Costa Rican is considered poor and around 6 percent of the residents are considered extremely poor. It is mainly in rural areas that poverty exists.
Same-sex marriage is allowed since 2020.
A large proportion of the Costa Ricans live much like the majority in the western countries. The middle class makes up a larger proportion of the population than in most Latin American countries. Culturally, Costa Rica takes a lot after the US. The middle and upper classes live mainly in the metropolitan area on the central plateau. Most live in single-family homes. The better-off people stay with at least one car and often have home help – not least a Nicaraguan woman. The lower middle class lives under simpler conditions.
On the outskirts of the big cities, there are slum-like areas, although they are neither as bleak nor widespread as in many other places in Latin America. The beggars are relatively few. In the countryside people are generally poorer than in the cities, but pretty much everyone has at least water and drains in the home. An exception is the small minority of indigenous people. They mostly live in or near a reserve and often lack access to both electricity and water as well as school and medical care.
The Costa Ricans are more typically Latin American in that family and family are a central part of life. You spend a lot of time in the family and often live together or close to each other. Children are everyone’s concern and you “get a lot” with them when they are young. Slightly larger children can count on promises from many directions. Young people – especially in the middle and upper classes – live as in the West in terms of dating, music and clothing. Family gatherings are important events. Girls’ 15th birthday is celebrated especially with a big party.
The position of women is better than in many countries in the region. The macho culture is a little more subdued, although it is not possible to escape the typical comments on the street. There are plenty of women in business and politics. Little as in Sweden, there is a collective notion that equality and equal opportunities are somewhat positive, even though the class differences are greater than with us.
Many Costa Rican people were obviously proud when the country elected its first female president, Laura Chinchilla, in 2010. But inequality and discrimination do exist. Women serve poorer than men and are still largely responsible for the care of children and homes. Domestic violence is common. Abortion is only allowed in exceptional cases.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 8 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 0.4 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 99.7 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 97.8 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 8.1 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 889 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 46 percent (2018)