Deservingness to state health services for South-South migrants: A preliminary study of Costa Rican providers' views

Kate Goldade, Kola Okuyemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Health services for undocumented migrants highlight the complex politics of the " right to health" South-South migrants, an emerging focus of migration scholarship, compose an estimated 40 percent of the world's 200 million international migrants. In Costa Rica, internationally renowned for its public health achievements, undocumented Nicaraguan migrants number between 8 and 16 percent of the population. In spite of historical, linguistic, and ethnic congruencies between peoples of the sending and receiving countries at the ends of this migratory path, access to health services is limited for migrants experiencing illegality in the global economic South. Costa Rican health providers articulated concepts of deservingness to health services for undocumented Nicaraguan migrants. This article is based on a preliminary study with a purposive sample of 22 Costa Rican health services providers. Interviewed over two field research periods (June 2005-July 2006; July, 2008), providers addressed four types of health services for undocumented migrants. Overall their views on the deservingness of health services for undocumented migrants reflected a utilitarian approach. Specifically, their talk reflected: 1) the limits to state responsibility for ensuring the health of individuals not pertaining to the nation; and 2) a concern for the threats posed to the health of Costa Rican nationals. Costa Rican providers' perceptions on health services for migrants offer partial insight for the development of future migrant health policies in receiving countries of the global economic South.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)882-886
Number of pages5
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the study participants. The research conducted for this report was funded by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grant and a PEO Dissertation Completion Fellowship.


  • Costa Rica
  • Deservingness
  • Health providers
  • Migrant health care
  • South-South migration


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