Rate of immigration slowing and more Ticos move away

Although the number of foreigners who immigrated to Costa Rica in the last 10 years has doubled, the rate of immigration growth has decreased from 7.5 percent a year to 2.4 percent a year, according to the latest census by Migración y Extranjería.

As of 2011, the top nationalities of immigration are Nicaraguan at 75 percent, Columbian at 4.2 percent and American at 4.1 percent.

The office used the data to compare the period 1984 to 2000 to the period 2000 to 2011.

Costa Rican census data combined with the United States census and research by the Banco Central also showed that while the rate of immigration is down, the rate of emigration is up. It is estimated that 250,000 Costa Rican citizens live outside the country.

Of this number 187,689 Costa Ricans live in the United States and the 62,311 more live in countries such as Canada and England.

The figures are expected to quickly pass 300,000 citizens living abroad or 6 percent of the population as more data is compiled, the agency said.

Many of the persons who left last year are the country’s young adults, with most of them being around 27 years old. The number one reason for leaving was for jobs.

In addition, Costa Rican women are having nearly half the amount of babies as Nicaraguan women. It is documented that for every 1,000 Costa Rican mothers within the fertility age bracket of 15 to 44 years, only 55 give birth a year.

This is compared to the 100 births that come from Nicaraguan mothers in the age range.

In 2011, 20 percent of births were by foreign mothers.

The children who live in Costa Rica and have foreign parents are not accessing higher education. Only 2.3 percent of the population of the four public universities are foreigners, and only 3 percent of scholarships go to these children.

Also, only 3.7 percent of youth with foreign backgrounds are enrolled in the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje for special training and apprenticeships, according to the data.

“The level of participation of the migrant population in all these services is far below their demographic representation,” immigration officials said.

This is not to say these persons do not have jobs. Although foreigners only make up 9 percent of the population, they make up 12.3 percent of the workforce.

“This exemplifies the important occupational role migration plays in Costa Rica,” said immigration spokespersons.

Yet, these workers may not be receiving all their social benefits. Some 40 percent of foreigners treated in public facilities lacked Caja health insurance. This is more than triple the number of uninsured Costa Ricans receiving health care.

Immigration officials have determined these factors and more as items to consider in upcoming policies, a release said.

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