Fun Facts from the CIA World Factbook

In the middle of research on another topic completely, I found some facts that caught my eye. Being a generous sort, I will share them with you here.

Median Age: Costa Rica: 27.5 years USA: 36.7 years

Birth Rate: Costa Rica: 17.43 births/1,000 population (2009 est.) USA 13.82

Death Rate: Costa Rica: 4.34 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.) USA: 8.38

Net (Birth Rate – Death Rate) Costa Rica: 13.09 | USA 8.38

Infant mortality rate: Costa Rica: 8.77 deaths/1,000 live births USA: 6.26

Life expectancy at birth: Costa Rica: 77.58 years USA: 78.11 years

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write – Costa Rica: 94.9% USA: 99%

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): Costa Rica: total: 12 years – USA: total: 16 years

GDP – per capita (PPP): Costa Rica: $11,600 (2008 est.) USA: $47,500 (2008 est.)

Inflation Rate: Costa Rica: 13.4% (2008 est.) USA: 3.8% (2008 est.)

Population below poverty line: Costa Rica: 16% (2006 est.) USA: 12% (2004 est.)

GDP – composition by sector:
Costa Rica: agriculture: 14% industry: 22% services: 64% (2006 est.)
USA: agriculture: 1.2% industry: 19.2% services: 79.6% (2008 est.)

Had enough facts and figures? I have. So, now it’s time for… ANALYSIS AND OPINION!

There is more than 9 years difference between the median age in Costa Rica compared to the United States. If you look at the birth and death rates, you see the same thing. Although life expectancy is nearly the same in both countries, the birth rate is higher and the death rate is lower in Costa Rica. The death rate statistic isn’t hard to understand. The older portion of the populations are more likely to die than the younger portions. If the halfway point of population age in the USA is 10 years farther along than the halfway point of the Costa Rican population, and the life expectancy is about the same, the halfway point is about 9 years closer to the old grim reaper, wherever he’s hiding.

Literacy in Costa Rica is the highest in Latin America, and does not trail the United States by much. On the other hand, the School life expectancy statistic shows a difference of 4 years between Costa Rica and the USA. I have to confess, I looked up the definition and still don’t understand exactly what it signifies. Surely it doesn’t mean that the average child can expect 16 years of education in the USA? In any case, that number is 4 years lower in Costa Rica. I wish I understood it, but I don’t.

GDP per Capita is an interesting statistic. Presumably this takes a country’s GDP and divides it by total population. The only trouble here is what GDP really means. I confess to being in the dark on this. But I can guess that a big GDP is better than a small one, all things being equal. Divided up equally, which of course it is (yeah right), this is $47+ thousand per person in the USA. Now, the median family income in the USA for 2008 was just about that, strangely enough. In Costa Rica, the GDP per person is around $11 thousand. If the same sort of ratio applies, and I have no idea if it does, median Costa Rica family income would be around $11,000 USD. Try as I might, I have been unable to find statistics for median family income in Costa Rica. If you can find it, please PLEASE let me know.

Inflation rate is one of the statistics that differs greatly between the two countries. It’s a lot higher in Costa Rica. This is basically why the Colon is almost always losing ground to the US Dollar.

Population below poverty line is another interesting stat. It would seem that there isn’t that much difference between the two countries. Of course, the real question is how you define poverty. Where IS that poverty line? Who draws it, and why do they draw it where they draw it? Good questions that I can not answer.

One last factoid then we’ll call it a day/night. In terms of percentage of GDP (whatever that really is), agriculture in Costa Rica comprises 14% of GDP compared to only 2% in the USA. Industry in Costa Rica is 22% of GDP to 18% in the USA, and services 64% as compared to a whopping 79.6% in the USA. For those who complain about service in Costa Rica, is it any wonder it’s not as good as the USA, where 80% of GDP is service sector??? I’m going to go lie down and think about it.

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  1. You've really done your homework here, Dan. Interesting numbers.

  2. No. Cal. Refugee says:

    Thanks Kevin. There are a few numbers I couldn't find to save my life. Median income in Costa Rica was one. Also where the so-called 'poverty line' is here. But you do what you can with what you got. Stay warm up there.

  3. the official poverty line in CR is drawn at the level where you find the ash wipe holder in the bathroom….

    if it is empty, then you know you are poor or in a poor place.

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