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Socio-economic development and fertility decline in Costa Rica. Background paper prepared for the project on socio-economic development and fertility decline.
New York, New York, United Nations, 1985. 118 p. (ST/ESA/SER.R/55)This summary of information on the development process in Costa Rica and its relation to fertility from 1950-70 is a revision of a study prepared for the Workshop on Socioeconomic Development and Fertility Decline held in Costa Rica in April 1982 as part of a UN comparative study of 5 developing countries. The report contains chapters on background information on fertility and the family, historical facts, and political organization of Costa Rica; the development strategy and its consequences vis a vis the composition of the gross domestic product, balance of trade, investment trends, the structure of the labor force, educational levels, and income; the allocation of public resources in public employment, public investment, credit, public expenditures, and the impact of resource allocation policies; changes in land tenure patterns; cultural factors affecting fertility, including education, women and their family roles, behavior in the home, women and politics, work and social security, and race and religion; changes in demographic variables, including nuptiality patterns, marital fertility, and natural fertility and birth control; characteristics and determining factors of the decline in fertility, including levels and trends, decline by age group, decline in terms of birth order, differences among population groups, how fertility declined, and history and role of family planning programs; and a discussion of the modernization process in Costa Rica and the relationship between demographic and socioeconomic variables. Beginning with the 1948 civil war, Costa Rica underwent drastic changes which were still reflected in national life as late as 1970. The industrial sector and the government bureaucracy have become decisive forces in development and the government has become the major employer. The state plays a key role in economic life, and state participation is a determining factor in extending medical and educational resources in the social field. The economically active population declined from 64% in 1960 to 55% in 1975 due to urbanization and migration from rural to urban areas, but there was an increase in economic participation of women, especially in urban areas. Increased educational level of the population in general and women in particular created changes in traditional attitudes and behavior. Although there is no specific explanation of why Costa Rica's fertility decline occurred, some observations about its determining factors and mechanisms can be made: the considerable economic development of the 1950s and 1960s brought about a rapid rise in per capita income and changes in the structure of production as well as substantial social development, increased opportunities for self-improvement for some social groups, and a rise in expectations. The size of the family became an aspect of conflict between rising expectations and increasing expenses. The National Family Planning Program helped accelerate the fertility decline.