Costa Rica · 13 December, 2021

EUROsociAL+ assists with the impact evaluation of the ‘Bono Proteger’, which aims to palliate the effects of COVID-19 in the most vulnerable social sectors of Costa Rica

This social protection programme is designed to provide temporary assistance to people who lost their jobs, have been laid off or had their working hours reduced as a result of the health emergency caused by COVID-19 in 2020.

The results of the impact evaluation were recently presented at an event organised by the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy (MIDEPLAN), attended by the Ministers of MIDEPLAN, Labour and Social Security, and the Minister of Human Development, as well as senior officials of Costa Rican institutions, technical liaisons and technical advisers of EUROsociAL+, represented by the Spanish Institute for Tax Studies of the Spanish Ministry of Finance.

The “Bono Proteger” Programme (BP) is a public initiative that responds to the socio-economic impact of the National Emergency caused by COVID-19, as part of the initial measures taken in response to the labour crisis. The initiative consisted of a temporary unemployment subsidy (direct cash transfer) to help cover the basic needs of their households.

The main purpose was “to evaluate the results of the ‘Bono Proteger’ to contribute to decision-making on interventions in emergency situations and to accountability regarding the use of public resources.” The main use is identified in the adaptation and improvement of guidelines for the generation of programmes in emergency contexts.

Robust (quasi-experimental) and innovative methodologies were applied in the country to carry out this evaluation such as a spending review to generate closer alignment of public spending with strategic and political priorities. In this regard, the OECD says that “they are widely used as a strategic budgeting tool by countries, and their purpose is to give governments better control over the level of aggregate spending and to improve the prioritisation of expenditure, helping to identify potential areas for savings.”

Technical assistance was provided by the Spanish Institute for Tax Studies, within the framework of the EUROsociAL+ programme. This programme reached 724,330 people, and entailed an investment of 260 billion colones (0.9% of GDP in 2020), described by ECLAC as the broadest and largest incentive in 15 Latin American countries.

The results shown in the evaluation show the effectiveness of the programme, considering the entire cycle from the design, its implementation, and delivery of the service to its follow-up from different perspectives (financial, management and others).

The impact evaluation provides evidence of the results, which show that the direct transfers of cash to people whose working conditions had been affected were decisive in stopping the spread of poverty in the country; particularly through the virtualisation strategy and self-management model that enabled the mass incorporation of the affected groups into the programme, including profiles that have traditionally been excluded from social protection mechanisms such as informal and temporary workers.

The authorities have prioritised robust evaluation exercises in their work as decision makers, and have also highlighted the need to expand multi-actor work schemes, establishing alliances to increase capacity and deepen the scope-specialisation of the Actions undertaken in the public sector, where the contribution of the EUROsociAL+ Programme to national priorities is recognised.


Country: Costa Rica
SDG: Decent work and economic growth, Reduced inequalities, Peace, justice and strong institutions
Policy area: Social policies