weekly blog--one for the ages
In 1970, seven per cent of Costa Rican children died before their first birthday. By 1980, only two per cent did. In the course of the decade, maternal deaths fell by eighty per cent. The nation’s over-all life expectancy became the longest in Latin America, and kept growing. By 1985, Costa Rica’s life expectancy matched that of the United States. Now it’s 81 years old compared to the US’s 79.
Demographers and economists have taken notice. The country is now the best performer among a handful of countries that seems to defy the rule that health requires wealth. Costa Rica’s per-capita income is a sixth that of the United States, and its per-capita health-care costs are a fraction of the US’s. People who have studied Costa Rica have identified what seems to be a key factor in its success: the country has made public health, measures to improve the health of the population as a whole, central to the delivery of medical care.
But what set Costa Rica apart isn’t simply the amount it spends on health care. It is how the money is spent: targeting the most readily preventable kinds of death and disability.
Learn More: Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What’s the Secret? | The New Yorker