Costa Rica: Income Down, Poverty Up

In the context of the health and economic crisis that the country is suffering, between 2019 and 2020 the average income per household decreased by 12%, and the incidence of poverty increased from 21% to 26%.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The average income per household according to the 2020 National Household Survey (Enaho) is ₡891,934 per month ($1,487), which represents a variation of -12.2% from the previous year, when it was at ₡1,016,358 ($1,694). In per capita terms, income is estimated at ₡326,483 ($544) per month, which represents a 13.2% decrease from the 2019 estimate, when it was at ₡376,333 ($627), both variations being statistically significant.

Check out the "System for monitoring markets and the economic situation in Central American countries", developed by CentralAmericaData.

The document states that the percentage of households in poverty is 26.2%, equivalent to 419,783 households, 83,888 more than the previous year, reporting a 5.2% increase in the proportion of poor households compared to 2019.

According to the Enaho, "... the effect of the pandemic on the poverty level of households is reflected, which was partly curbed by the increase in transfers, both public and private (aid in kind such as food, supplies, payment for services, among others, as well as monetary contributions) that households received; if this type of additional contribution had not been generated, the incidence of poverty would have increased by between 4 pp. and 6 pp. more than observed."

The report adds that "... the percentage of households in extreme poverty is 7.0%, which is 1.2 pp higher than the estimate for 2019, when it was 5.8%. In absolute terms, this is equivalent to 19,445 more households in extreme poverty, going from 93,542 households in this condition in 2019 to 112,987 in 2020."

See the full "Enaho 2020" (in Spanish).

More on this topic

Nicaragua: Unemployment Could Rise to 9%

April 2020

Given the threat of a deepening economic recession in the country, resulting from the outbreak of covid-19, it is estimated that by the end of the year the open unemployment rate could rise to 9.2%.

In the context of the health crisis, an increase in poverty levels will also be reported, and the GDP per capita indicator will decrease, explains the "Informe de Coyuntura, Abril 2020", prepared by the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides).

Poverty in Costa Rica Does Not Fall Back

October 2019

During 2019, the proportion of households living in poverty in the country remained at 21%, which is identical to the percentage reported in 2018.

According to the National Household Survey 2019, prepared by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, per area of residence, urban poverty reaches 19.8% of households, while rural poverty reaches 24.2%, both values without significant changes with respect to 2018.

Costa Rica: Poverty Increases to 21%

October 2018

The number of households living in poverty increased by 1.1% between 2017 and 2018, increasing from 20% to 21.1% of the population.

Households living in poverty by poverty line (LP) represent 21.1% of the country's total, 1.1% more than the figure recorded in 2017. According to the National Institute of Census and Statistics, this increase is statistically significant.

The Real Causes of 1.2% Reduction in Poverty in Costa Rica

October 2016

Despite what the government has publicized, in-depth analysis of data in the 2016 National Household Survey confirms that welfarism was not the reason for the decline in poverty.


Without glossing over concepts that are politically expedient for a government that is in particular need of demonstrating some sort of achievement in its management, Diego Fernandez, Data Scientist at, thoroughly investigated the complex interplay of factors that determine poverty, confirming what is already known: direct assistance to families works better as a method of political patronage than as a tool for sustainable improvement of their income.

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