San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Country Falls Seven Spots In U.N. Development Index

Costa Rica has slipped seven spots during the past five years on the Human Development Index (HDI), a ranking that evaluates countries’ life expectancy, education and standards of living, explained U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative José Manuel Hermida during a press conference in San José Wednesday.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that human development here has suffered, but it does mean that other countries are rising on the index and displacing Costa Rica, which has remained stagnant in terms of human development, Hermida explained.

For example, Chile, Korea and Malta were all ranked below Costa Rica on the index in 1975 and have since risen to rank above Costa Rica.

Poor distribution of potable water and water sanitation facilities is one of the main causes of inequality that makes for stagnant human development worldwide, according to a statement from UNDP.

In Costa Rica, only 82.8% of the population has potable water, and only 5% of wastewater is treated.

However, in terms of life expectancy, Costa Rica’s 78.3 years is in line with developing countries, Hermida explained. Costa Rica’s literacy rate (95% of adults) is also considered high.

In gender equality, Costa Rica ranks an impressive third in terms of the percentage of women in its legislature, but, on average, women earn significantly less than men, the statement said.

“For each dollar a man earns, a woman receives just $0.46, showing that the country should revise its gender equity policies to provide better opportunities for work and compensation,” said UNDP program coordinator Lara Blanco.

Another goal UNDP spelled out for Costa Rica is decreasing the number of people who live on $1 or less per day (currently 2.2% of the population).

The HDI results presented this week used statistics from 2004 from 175 U.N. member countries in addition to Hong Kong and the OccupiedPalestineTerritory.

The results did not include Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, where insufficient data is available, the statement said.


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