Fellow Southern Cone country Argentina, which was not included in the 2013 rankings, was the runner-up, receiving strong marks for economic growth, access to adequate housing, and the percentage of gross domestic product spent on social programming (10.4 percent).
Argentina, however, is facing a legal situation that could be potentially disastrous for its economy. US courts have ruled that Argentina – also this year's World Cup runner-up – must pay in full bondholders who refused to take a bond swap when the country restructured bonds it floated after its 2001 default.
Costa Rica, which ranked fourth in 2013, received high marks for access to adequate housing, the percentage of GDP spent on social programming (13.7 percent), and women’s rights.
The Central American country of 4.8 million is among the leaders in spending on healthcare, which helps prop up a socialized system that has made it a popular destination for expatriate retirees.