Working Paper
Three Decades of Neoliberal Economics in Chile

Achievements, Failures and Dilemmas

The Chilean development story of the last two to three decades is a mix of successes in the macro, growth, poverty and trade fronts but also of failure in reducing chronic inequality of income and wealth. In addition, the current growth patterns have serious impacts on the environment, natural resources and energy demand. Adverse features of the Chilean development model include urban insecurity and rising crime, pollution, pressure on natural resources, congestion and social stratification in access to education, health and pensions. A reduction in social inequality would require changes in several fronts: more public-sector resources devoted to education; curtailing current concentration of wealth and market shares in banking, retail trade, and private pensions systems, private health provision, and other sectors; more effective regulation of big business; rebalancing of labour unions’ bargaining power capacities and effective support to the sector of small and medium size enterprises. Chilean democracy would benefit from a redefinition in development priorities towards less power for the dominant elites (economic and political) and broader social participation for the middle class and the working people to support dynamic and more equitable development.