Thanks to the LAII Student Field Research grant, I spent May of 2016 in Costa Rica conducting preliminary field research on the relationship between Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and rural economic development in the Pacific region.
A large part of my studies focuses on investigating the fast growth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the lack of legislative control over the exploitation of natural resources to environmental and social consequences in communities. I carried out research in the Pacific region and the Valle Central of Costa Rica from May until mid-June of 2016 to analyze the relationship between foreign-led economic and environmental exploitation, and their sociocultural effects on the Costa Rican Pacific. My central research questions were: How have local and statewide regulations regarding FDI and foreign-led physical infrastructural development changed from the 1990s to today? How have they affected employment and salary rates, quality and types of employment, literacy rates, and household access to public services in the Pacific region? The first question consisted of identifying changes in FDI national policies, and the second question focused on how these changes have affected this locality. Most of my findings have been shared through conference presentations, class projects, and independent studies on this topic.
I used this grant to expand my preliminary research, and to overcome the previous lack of access to primary sources and up-to-date studies on the effects of the latest accelerating physical infrastructural development projects and environmental exploitation. The most recent substantial and reliable studies I have found were published in 2012. Significant economic and social changes happened in Costa Rica after CAFTA was put in place in 2009. However, the majority of internationally published research often does not have appropriate evidence to show the economic and social changes that CAFTA has brought to the nation.