Driving Forces of Costa Rican Culture

Being such a small country Costa Rica does not need a very large government. Why then do elected officials continue to try to expand it?

Whether it is better to shrink or expand the government is not an issue that is not unique to Costa Rica, it is a frequent topic of debate in the United States as well.  However, the United States is a much larger country with a much bigger and more diverse economy so the question stands: why do Costa Rica officials try and expand their government when it may be unnecessary in the small country.  One answer for this could be that the elected officials want to reduce the high unemployment and poverty rates (12% and 20% respectively).  However, they are doing so by increasing the government jobs which increases the burden of taxes on all citizens effectively exacerbating the situation.  Another answer could be that as the country increases its global presence the citizens feel they need a more centralized government.  Either way the Costa Ricans decisions to elect representatives that expand the government in a negative way and weaken the economy as a result directly contradicts the fact that most of them are conservative minded.

Why do Costa Ricans elect liberal minded representatives when the country is primarily conservative?

I was curious about the answer to this question for some time and I could not come up with a reason for it.  Then, one night, while speaking with my host mother she discussed the political situations in the country and it occurred to me.  Political candidates run on multiple platforms with economic policies covering only one or a few of them. Some political candidates have been elected because of their stance on civil rights or other major cultural issues such as protecting the integrity of the family, which are very important issues to Ticos.  After being elected these officials could then increase government employment and spending but that does not mean that all of the people who voted for them directly supported this specific platform of their campaign. The action of electing these officials contradicts the ideals of the Ticos so maybe the motives behind why they became elected may is a better indicator of Costa Rican values.

What is the benefit of switching from a raw materials approach to an added value approach for the countries exports?

In the 1970’s and 80’s Costa Rica sold its exports such as coffee using the raw materials approach, meaning that the exports were marketing simply as raw materials and prices were determined primarily by production costs and demand.  In the 1990’s the country switched to an added value approach with its exports meaning that Costa Rica marketing its exports as the ‘Costa Rican Brand’.  The benefit of this is that the quality of the product and the countries ‘brand equity’ could allow them to raise the prices of their exports and make more money off of them.  This occurred during a time of economic growth and it only helped to spur the growth, subsequently increasing middle class wealth and decreasing poverty, unemployment and the national debt.

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