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20 years

Over one million people in Costa Rica live in poverty

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November 23rd, 2012 ( Almost one in every four people in Costa Rica live in poverty, defined as not having enough income to satisfy their basic needs, including their nutritional needs.


The information was revealed on Thursday in the 2012 National Survey of Households, carried out by the National Statistical and Census Institute (INEC, in Spanish).


There are 280,000 households in the country that live in poverty, which is equal to 20.6% of all households. That amount is 1% less then last year, though INEC says that it does not consider that to be a reduction, as the change is not statistically significant and is within the margin of error.


In addition, a total of 335,000 people, equal to 7.2% of the population, live in what INEC describes as “extreme” poverty. These people earn between just 34,921 colons (about $70) and 41,842 colons (about $84) per month, which is not enough to satisfy even their basic nutritional needs.


The survey also pointed to an increasing gap in Costa Rica between the “haves” and the “have nots.”


The per capita income of the 20% of households with the highest income (Quintile V), is 18 times more then that of households with the least income (Quintile I).


For example, the lowest income earners earn an average of just 50,491 colons per month (about $100), whereas higher income earners earn an average of 913,175 colons per month (more than $1,800).


The disparity among households can also be seen in the percentage of accrued income. If the entire income of all households in the country were to be summed up, 50.9% of that income goes to the top 20%, whereas the poorest 20.6% receives just 4.2% of total income.


80% of household income comes from labor, while 10.8% comes from pensions, remittances and money transfers between households. State benefits and scholarships represent 1.2% of household income. This last percentage is more important amongst the poorest households, where it represents 12% of their total income. In wealthier households, income from rental properties is also significant.

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