Today we got the chance to listen to a lecture by Dr. José Sánchez. We learned a lot about the Costa Rican economy. These are a few questions that were answered by today’s lecture:
Why is education becoming more important in Costa Rica? As Dr. Sanchez noted in his lecture, the Costa Rican economy is one of the fastest growing economies in Central America. This kind of economic growth leads to changes in the kinds of jobs available to people in the workforce. In Costa Rica, because of the growing economy there is a growing number of job openings in the information and technology industries. Often, these positions require a higher level of education, so attending a university is growing a lot in importance in the country. As of now, there are about 50 private universities and 5 public universities in Costa Rica. Admittance to these has become a lot more competitive within the last few years. In addition to this, Costa Rica is now investing 8% if its GDP in improving education. This is for a similar reason—education is very important to the country in order to fill the new technology and information jobs. This makes a lot of sense to me. In the U.S., a lot of people pursue higher education in order to get a job that they want. Ticos, from what I have experienced so far, seem to be passionate about what they do. It makes sense that Ticos are willing to go the extra mile for their education in order to do something that they are interested in.
Why is there a strong focus on ecotourism in Costa Rica? In the 1970s, Costa Rica started to switch to focus more on its sustainability. Farmers began to realize that their traditional faming practices and deforestation were taking a toll on the land and making it even more difficult to farm. At this point, Costa Rica began to switch its focus and, in the 1990s, ecotourism began to become a big business in Costa Rica. The reasoning behind this switch is that ecotourism is another, new form of business that Costa Rica could benefit a lot from. This aligns with a lot of the behavior I have observed so far. All around Heredia, something I noticed is that all the trash cans are separated into different kinds of recycling. In addition to this, it is courtesy to turn off the lights when you are not using them (though this could be to save money, it also helps conserve energy). I think that care for the environment is built subtly into Ticos’ lives, and there is an underlying care for environmental sustainability.
Why is coffee important to the Costa Rican economy? Costa Rica is one of the few places that can grow coffee in the world. Given this, Costa Rica will profit more if it specializes in growing coffee and trading it than if it isolates itself. Costa Rica is part of several free trade agreements, making trade easier and less expensive between countries. With increasing globalization, there is higher demand for coffee from other countries, so there is more of a chance to for Costa Rica to trade with others. This will benefit the Costa Rican economy, and increase quality of life.