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Tenure Insecurity

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Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a middle-income country of 51,100 square kilometres in Central America. It has a population of 5 million, a GDP per capita of $11,800 (2016), and a poverty rate of 20% (2017). Its economy is diverse, based on tourism, exports of medical and electronics components, medical manufacturing and IT services. Fifty one percent of Costa Rica’s land area is forest and it is the only tropical country in the world that has reversed deforestation. It is considered to be a successful case of development in Central America due to its political stability, high standard of living and social protection system.

Land tenure in Costa Rica is a less contentious issue than in many Latin American countries, although the distribution of agricultural land is highly concentrated. Costa Rica has clear, longstanding legal frameworks related to land but implementation of property rights on the ground continues to face challenges. This includes issues of double allocation of property rights, particularly in Indigenous Reserves and State-owned protected areas. Women have equal access to land and housing under the law, which are considered family property with equal rights for the couple and joint titling for married women.

Statistical Analysis

Prindex’s results show that 17% of respondents felt insecure about their tenure rights in 2018 – an equivalent of 611,000 people aged 18 or over, and lower than the average of the first 15 countries. Exactly three quarters of the sample interviewed felt secure about their property rights and the remaining 8% refused or did not know how to answer the question. Seventy nine percent of owners and renters reported the possession of formal documentation and only 6% reported no documentation. Unlike in many other countries surveyed, there was no difference in perceived tenure insecurity between men and women in the hypothetical case of divorce and very little difference in the case of spousal death.

The tables and diagrams below show key Prindex results for Costa Rica or you can download an infographic.


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All respondents

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