Posts Tagged ‘Costa Rica’

Costa Rica’s Gross National Happiness

Friday, August 7th, 2015

More good news from Latin America.

[H]ow can poor countries become more liveable? Most developing nations know they will never be Norway. But they could become Costa Rica. ….

The average Costa Rican has about one-eighth of the income of the average American (according to the World Bank) yet lives a year longer, to age 80. Costa Rica also scores high on freedom of life choices, health, tolerance and lack of corruption. Its citizens report impressive life satisfaction. ….

Every nation needs a certain level of income to afford a good life. However, income alone isn

happiness, satisfaction, and GDP

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

I would like to call everyone’s attention to a superb article written by University of Southern California economist Richard Easterlin, a scholar who, years ago, touched off the booming field of “happiness studies”. I, for one, am not convinced that happiness – even life satisfaction or subjective well being – is something we can usefully measure, aggregate and use for policy purposes. Nonetheless, Easterlin makes a spirited, impassioned case for replacing GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with SWB (Subjective Well Being). He has succeeded in convincing me that SWB, with all its faults, is at least preferable to HDI (the UNDP’s Human Development Index) as a measure of welfare.

Here are two paragraphs from the introduction, and two from the conclusion of the essay. The entire essay (4 pages) can be downloaded, copied and printed without charge, so click on the link below. You will not be disappointed. (more…)

Costa Rica: reform of pension reform

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Costa Rica decades ago initiated a pay-as-you-go (PAYGO), traditional social security pension scheme that is currently funded from mandated contributions equal to 7.59 per cent of payrolls (35% from employees and 65% from employers). In 1995, voluntary retirement savings accounts were added to the PAYGO pillar.

In 2005, contributions to private accounts became mandatory for new entrants into the social security system. Participation in Social Security is theoretically compulsory, but evaded by informal workers. Employers of formal labour must contribute an amount equal to 3.25% of payrolls. Employees contribute a minimum of 1% of earnings plus up to 0.7% of the account balance (2014) for administrative fees. Voluntary contributions are permitted, but are very rare. Upon retirement, contributors can access their private accounts by one of two options: programmed withdrawals or an annuity (private pension).

Administrators of private accounts from the beginning charged high fees, and gave extremely low returns on savings. In response to complaints, regulators in 2011 began to force the industry to reduce administrative fees by setting maximum fees the six authorized fund management companies (OPCs) can charge.

Effective January 1, 2014, the ceiling on administrative fees that pension fund management companies (OPCs) may charge accountholders was lowered to 0.70 percent of the account balance. … [b]eginning in January 1, 2011 [regulators] changed the method of calculating the administrative fees, from a mixed percentage of the accountholder’s salary plus the fund’s performance to a percentage of the account balance.

The ceiling was set at 1.10 percent of the account balance for the 2011

pension coverage in Latin America

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

This chart is interesting. Bolivia stands out as the only country of the ten that has a universal pension in place.

The black bars refer to the percentage of the labor force that contributes to a social security scheme. Many contributors will never receive a pension because they move in and out of formal employment, so do not contribute long enough to qualify for a pension. The red bars refer to the percentage of the retirement-age population that receives any sort of pension (contributory or noncontributory).

The authors of the article observe “Recently, the Mexican president introduced a pension reform bill to Congress that would set up a universal noncontributory old-age benefit.” – without cautioning that the proposed pension, despite its name, is not universal.

pension coverage

Source: US Social Security Administration, “Social Pensions and Subsidized Benefits in Latin America“, International Update (September 2013).


Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Growth in Brazil, India and China might be losing steam, Europe might be mired in its sovereign debt crisis and the US might continue to limp along. But at least there

Tyler Cowen on Costa Rica

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

He wasn’t impressed.

I haven’t been to Costa Rica in a long time, but here is what lodged in my memory:

Monkeys and birds, hanging sloth is hard to see, excellent dialect on Caribbean coast, eat palmitos [hearts of palm], like it or not beans and rice for breakfast, cross the country by taxi in a day, if you mispronounce the volcano it rhymes with the last name of David Boaz, Spanish paella in the capital, “Tica,” music is mediocre, worst Chinese food anywhere, the least interesting locale in Central America but the best trip for most Americans.

Costa Rica’s new president and violent crime

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Costa Rica has a new president – Laura Chinchilla, who took office on May 8th 2010 – so I am recycling a TdJ that reveals her thoughts when she was Justice Minister in the government of President Oscar Arias.

In recent years we have witnessed an alarming increase in levels of criminal violence. ….

[D]uring the period 1990-2006 total crimes per 100,000 inhabitants increased from 135 to 295 and increases in some components are especially troubling. Robbery, for example, increased 700%, and use of illegal drugs increased 280%. Violent crimes also experienced a sharp growth of more than 100%. The murder rate, indicator par excellence of the level of violence in a country, increased 50% in that same period. As a complement for these indicators, we looked the percentage of households in which at least one family member has been victim of a crime and found that this number increased from 20% in 1986 to 27% in 1999 and 40% in 2004. ….

Increasing violence and fear has caused us to draft over the last fifteen years abundant laws regarding law enforcement and punishment. ….

As a result of all this legislation, … in the last ten years we have doubled the rate at which we jail our citizens, which places us at the head of countries with the highest rates of incarceration on this continent. Paradoxically, after adopting all these measures, violence and criminality continue to grow and the prevalence of fear is stronger today than ever. ….

For this reason the Government of the Republic… has proposed implementation of a National Plan for Prevention of Violence and Promotion of Social Peace.

19 August 2007: It is about time action was taken, given the rapidly deteriorating public security in Costa Rica. The author of this column, Laura Chinchilla, is Minister of Justice in the current government of President Oscar Arias. Thought du jour will be monitoring developments. Translated somewhat freely by L. Willmore. The original Spanish follows.

15 June 2010: I haven’t seen the statistics, but violent crime seems to continue rising in Costa Rica. We shall see whether Laura Chinchilla is more successful as President than she was as Justice Minister. We wish her well.

En los

Nicaraguans in Costa Rica

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Many Costa Ricans resent immigrants from neighbouring Nicaragua, much as some US residents resent immigrants from Mexico, often with little reason. It is thus worthy of note that La Nacion – the principle newspaper of Costa Rica – today praises the selfless act of a humble Nicaraguan immigrant, suggesting that he serve as an example for all Costa Ricans. For those who do not read Spanish, a rough English translation follows the Spanish text.

A sus 79 a

infant mortality in Chile, Costa Rica and Cuba

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Infant Mortality Rates

(per thousand live births)

Year Chile