Costa Rica Among The Most Unequal in Latin America

Costa Rica has a 48.53% Gini coefficient overall and is 10th in Latin America, placing it among the most unequal of the continent


On equality issues, Costa Rica is ranked 86 out of 98 nations analyzed in the report of the State of World Population 2017, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

From State of World Population Report 2017

The SWOP report analyzes by means of the Gini coefficient the inequality in terms of income or wealth and in dimensions of social, racial, political and institutional character.

The calculation of this measure ranges from 0% to 100%; where 0% represents an idealized state, in which all individuals or households in a group have exactly the same wealth or income; while 100% reflects absolute inequality.


Costa Rica has a 48.53% Gini coefficient overall and is 10th in Latin America, placing it among the most unequal of the continent, but above Guatemala (48.66%), Chile (50.45%), Honduras (50.64%), Panama (50.7%), Brazil (51.8%), Paraguay (51.67%) and Colombia (53.5%).

“Costa Rica has an important challenge in that regard, given the increase in inequality. Women are the most affected and it is imperative to invest in them, promote a cultural and social change for greater equality and social justice,” added Paula Antezana Rimassa, auxiliary representative of Unfpa in the country.

In the world, Ukraine, Slovenia and Norway are the three nations that are closest to 0%, with coefficients that reached levels of 24.09%, 25.59% and 25.9%; respectively.

The report places South Africa, with a score of 63.38% as the country with the highest inequality.

In Latin America, the top five, that, is the least unequal countries are:

1. Uruguay

It is the least unequal country in the region. It obtained a coefficient of 41.6% that places it the 65th place in the world.

2. El Salvador

The country slipped into second place on the continent and first in Central America with a score of 41.84%. Globally it is located in position 66.

3. Argentina

The Gini of the South Americans was at 42.67% that places them in the “top three” of Latin America. In the world, it reached the 71st place.

4. Peru

Peru obtained a coefficient of 44.14%. The report places it on site 77 of the global ranking.

5. Ecuador

Ecuador scored a Gini of 45.38%, a score that placed him in the 78th position of the world index.

The UNFPA says inequality is often understood in terms of income or wealth—the dividing line between the rich and poor. But, in reality, economic disparities are only one part of the inequality story. Many other social, racial, political and institutional dimensions feed on each other and together block hope for progress among people on the margins.

Two critical dimensions are gender inequality, and inequalities in realizing sexual and reproductive health and rights; the latter, in particular, still receives inadequate attention.

Costa Rica by the numbers:

  • Total population in millions, 2017: 4.9 million
  • Average annual rate of population change,  2010-2017: 1.1%
  • Population aged 10-24,2017: 23%
  • Population aged 0-14, 2017: 22%
  • Population aged 15-64, 2017: 69%
  • Population aged 65 and older, 2017: 9%
  • Dependency ratio, 2016: 45.2%

Costa Rica life expectancy:

  • Men: 78
  • Women: 82

More: World Population Dashboard Costa Rica