Innovation and Inequality

Innovation and Inequality

Emerging Technologies in an Unequal World

Edited by Susan Cozzens and Dhanaraj Thakur

Inequality is one of the main features of globalization. Do emerging technologies, as they spread around the world, contribute to more inequality or less? This unique interdisciplinary text examines the relationships between emerging technologies and social, economic and other forms of inequality.

Chapter 10: Distributive paths of emerging technologies in Costa Rica

Isabel Bortagaray

Subjects: development studies, development studies, innovation and technology, innovation policy, technology and ict, politics and public policy, public policy

Extract

Costa Rica has distinguished itself not only within Central America, but across Latin America in general. It stands out for several reasons: its political, social, and economic stability over time, a profound respect for democratic values in a largely equalitarian society, extended education and health coverage, and high literacy levels, among others. Traditionally Costa Ricans have proudly seen their country as an agricultural, pacifist, and egalitarian republic, oriented to democratic values and social justice (Molina Jiménez 2003). In 2011, Costa Rica continued to show improvements in human development indicators for the average population, particularly regarding health and education. However, in parallel, social equity has deteriorated together with the decrease in public social expenditure (Programa Estado de la Nacion 2012). New problems have emerged such as rising levels of crime connected to drug trading, though these are still low compared to other Central American countries (Demombynes 2011). According to a periodical study of the socio-economic conditions of Costa Rica, 2011 results show a step back in terms of equality of opportunities and capabilities. Income distribution among households is being concentrated on those with higher income. Inequality has been increasing: in 1990 the Gini coefficient was 0.464, while by 2011 it had reached 0.515. Furthermore, the relationship between the first (poorest 20 percent) and the fifth quintiles (richest 20 percent) increased from 16.7 times in 2010 to 18.2 times by 2011 (Programa Estado de la NaciÛn 2012).

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