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Single Mothers and Poverty in Costa Rica

Author

Listed:
  • Gindling, T. H.

    () (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

  • Oviedo, Luis

    () (University of Costa Rica)

Abstract

Despite increasing average real family incomes in Costa Rica in the late 1990s and early 2000s, poverty rates did not fall. In this paper, we argue that during this period economic growth in Costa Rica did not translate into reduced poverty because of changes in family structure and in the labor market, and that these changes had an important gender dimension. Specifically, an increase in the proportion of Costa Rican households headed by single mothers led to an increase in the number of women with children entering the labor force. Many of these mothers, new entrants to the labor force, were unable or unwilling to find full-time work in the high-paying formal sector, and ended up unemployed or working part-time as self-employed workers. These labor market phenomena, in turn, contributed to low incomes for households vulnerable to poverty, especially those households headed by single mothers.

Suggested Citation

  • Gindling, T. H. & Oviedo, Luis, 2008. "Single Mothers and Poverty in Costa Rica," IZA Discussion Papers 3286, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3286
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marcelo Medeiros & Joana Simões Costa, 2005. "Poverty Among Women In Latin America: Feminization Or Over-Representation?," Anais do XXXIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 33rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 150, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    2. David Card & W. Craig Riddell, 1993. "A Comparative Analysis of Unemployment in Canada and the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 149-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Slon, Pablo & Zúñiga, Edwin, 2006. "Poverty dynamics in Costa Rica with panel data from cross-sections," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), August.
    4. Buvinic, Mayra & Gupta, Geeta Rao, 1997. "Female-Headed Households and Female-Maintained Families: Are They Worth Targeting to Reduce Poverty in Developing Countries?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 259-280, January.
    5. T. H. Gindling & Juan Diego Trejos, 2003. "Accounting for Changing Inequality in Costa Rica, 1980-1999," UMBC Economics Department Working Papers 03-108, UMBC Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2012. "A Gender (R)evolution in the Making? Expanding Women's Economic Opportunities in Central America : A Decade in Review," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12468, The World Bank.
    2. Michael Rogan, 2012. "Poverty and headship in post-apartheid South Africa, 1997-2008," Working Papers 288, Economic Research Southern Africa.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wages; Central America; poverty; employment; single mothers; Costa Rica;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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