Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Annual C.R. Poverty Survey Gets Underway

July 11, 2008

Pollsters this week began a survey that could blunt one of the Arias administration’s proudest selling points.

The annual survey by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC) is expected to show an increase in poverty rates when its results are released in late October.

The news would be a blow to President Oscar Arias, who often mentions last year’s survey, which partly credited his administration with the biggest one-year drop in poverty in 13 years.

Conducted since 1976, the survey is one of the most anticipated annual reports. Some 176 pollsters will spend the next month collecting data on income and employment from 14,000 households in 79 of the country’s 81 cantons. INEC, a non-partisan state body, shoulders the survey’s $370,000 cost.

In addition to poverty, this year’s survey will measure access to technology, such as cell phones and computers, and access to state social programs that offer housing, health care and scholarships to poor people.

For the first time in 11 years, the survey will also measure incidence and type of crime, as well as whether victims filed a police report.

According to last year’s survey, the fraction of households living in poverty dropped to 16.7 percent in 2007 from 20.2 percent the previous year. INEC researchers said Arias’ social programs partly contributed to the decrease, and the president was happy to take credit.

“I’m really proud to have been able to do something for the humblest people,” he said then.

But as food and gas prices have surged – food and beverages have become nearly 24 percent more expensive in the past year, the INEC recently reported – this achievement looks increasingly shaky. Economist Pablo Sauma said the new survey will probably show poverty levels back near 20 percent.

Sauma also predicted an increase in unemployment, which dropped to 4.6 percent in 2007, down from 6 percent the previous year.

Arias, expecting a period of “skinny cows,” told the news media that he, too, fears an increase in poverty.

The institute has been criticized in recent years by the news media for the way it measures poverty. A family qualifies as “poor,” according to INEC, if it cannot afford a “basket,” known as the canasta básica, of 45 foods plus basic living expenses such as housing, education and clothing. INEC has not modified its list of necessities since 1988.

Elizabeth Solano, director of the survey, said the list will be changed in 2009 – a promise the institute has been making for years.

Researchers are going slow to make sure the changes are sound, Solano added. A change in the way poverty is measured would be controversial because it would likely affect the survey’s outcome, she said.

“Whether (the results) favor one side or the other, they will have great impact,” Solano said. “We are concerned that (the methodology) be technically sound.”

 

You may be interested

Costa Rica approves law punishing street sexual harassment with jail and fines
Costa Rica
5804 views
Costa Rica
5804 views

Costa Rica approves law punishing street sexual harassment with jail and fines

AFP and The Tico Times - July 14, 2020

Costa Rica's Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed a law that criminalizes street sexual harassment and punishes it with prison terms…

Costa Rica coronavirus updates for July 14, 2020
Costa Rica
21356 views
Costa Rica
21356 views

Costa Rica coronavirus updates for July 14, 2020

Alejandro Zúñiga - July 14, 2020

Costa Rica confirmed 446 new cases of the coronavirus over the past day, totaling 8,482 cumulative known cases, the Health…

Panama hospitals on verge of collapse as virus cases surge
Latin America
1219 views
Latin America
1219 views

Panama hospitals on verge of collapse as virus cases surge

Juan José Rodríguez / AFP - July 14, 2020

Hospitals in Panama are on the brink of collapse as coronavirus cases spike in the Central American country worst hit…