|The Nutrition and Health Transition of Democratic Costa Rica (INFDC, 1995, 228 p.)|
|5. Socioeconomic factors for the understanding of health policy during the 1970s|
The emergence and the consolidation of the social government in Costa Rica cannot be explained without knowing the historical tradition of the country and its relationship with the international dynamic. The analysis of the historic tradition of Costa Rica allows us to observe the process that led in the 1940s to the acknowledgment of popular autonomous organizations and their demands and a government style in which the government intervened to mediate social conflict. By the same token, it allowed us to identify several factors that released funds for social development, such as the elimination of the armed forces towards the end of the 1940s and the financial assistance of international organizations that during the 1970s preferred to deal directly with governments.
During the 1950s, the factors that previously existed combined to permit implementation of a social and economic strategy. This required the participation of a government that facilitated improved productivity and market development, the creation of physical infrastructure for production, training of workers, and bank participation. This is the origin of the social government that reached its culmination in Costa Rica in the 1970s.
During the 1970s, to the factors already existing before it is necessary to add the international and Central American crisis and the limitations of the development strategy that was being followed. These limitations involved both an inability to stimulate production, to create enough jobs, and an observed increase in poverty. The entrepreneurial government was developed in response to this situation. The strong and centralized entrepreneurial government inserted Costa Rica into the international markets, and facilitated the expansion of the social government in order to maintain social peace and avoid unrest.
Therefore, the combination of the historic tradition of Costa Rica with the higher availability of funds and the formation of a strong government that worked towards the generation of profits in the 1970s allowed the successful application of an international development strategy that achieved the social indicators of an advanced country. This did not, however, protect Costa Rica from the international financial crisis towards the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s from which it has since tried to escape through a weakening of social policy as part of the structural adjustment.