QCOSTARICA – The evidence collected by the Programa Estado de la Nación (State of the Nation Program) in its latest report confirms that Costa Rica’s socioeconomic conditions were delicate even before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.
The global health emergency only aggravated many of the problems that the country failed to solve in recent years, even though they were becoming more and more notable.
This is one of the main conclusions of the document, which was published this Tuesday afternoon, in a virtual conference.
“The social situation in the country was already fragile before the crisis generated by covid-19; in fact,” the report states.
The State of the Nation Report points out three key aspects that reflect the complex reality experienced between 2019 and the first quarter of this year, when the new coronavirus began to spread in the country.
“The first corresponds to a deterioration in opportunities to have access to a decent income, which affected the living conditions of large groups of the population,” says the report.
The quarters prior to the impact of the pandemic already reflected the highest numbers of unemployment, informality and underemployment. The crisis triggered the unemployment rate to a historic 24% for the second quarter of this year.
“The second aspect noted is high income inequality, which generated chronic social vulnerability. The analysis carried out shows a country poorly prepared to face the crisis, especially due to the degree of inequality in the distribution of income, which was very high when compared to the Latin American and world context during the years immediately following this shock,” it affirms.
For example, the report revealed that for the third consecutive year the income of Costa Rican households contracted.
All this occurs in the context of weakening of public finances, which limit the fiscal tools to protect employment and carry out greater social investment to contain poverty.
“The third reflects how the accumulated fiscal deficit and the economic slowdown squeezed the financing of key areas of human development.
“In 2019 and early 2020, the difficult fiscal situation, with a deficit of more than 7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as well as the slowdown in the economy, which undermines social security and the resources directed to Fodesaf, put at risk the financing of selective social programs and public education, precisely when the country needs greater contributions to contain the deterioration that many households will suffer as a result of the contraction of income caused by the pandemic,” it warns.
“This edition goes beyond the traditional monitoring and assessment of the country’s performance in human development focused on the previous year and the beginning of the current year, as has been the case in the previous 25 editions.
“In this installment, the report documents the productive, social and fiscal effects of the covid-19 pandemic, which is hitting Costa Rican society as of March 2020, and on some issues it covers until October. The 2020 Report practically condenses two normal editions into a single text,” the research center said in a statement.
The State of the Nation is a system for monitoring the country’s performance in social, economic, environmental and political matters, through evaluation and measurement. It is attached to the National Council of Rectors (Conare).
‘There is hope’
The adverse results, according to the director of the State of the Nation Program, Jorge Vargas Cullell, does not mean that there is no time to correct the course, although he recognizes that the future is at stake in the face of the greatest crisis in the modern history of the country.
“It depends on how we handle the situation in the coming months, how the way out of the crisis will be. We can come out of it strengthened, but also very beaten and hopeless. It all depends on what we do today. There is time to think of solutions ”
“Awareness of the difficulties, but also of our capacities to overcome the problems, that is the main message of the 2020 Report of the State of the Nation,” said Vargas.