Chile’s insurgency and the end of neoliberalism

From a VOX post by Sebastian Edwards:

“In a few decades, Chile experienced dramatic economic growth and the fastest reduction of inequality in the region. Yet, many Chilean citizens feel that inequality has greatly increased. Such feelings of ‘malestar’ triggered the violent social unrest of October 2019. This paper explains this seeming paradox by differentiating ‘vertical’ (income) inequality from ‘horizontal’ (social) inequality. It argues that the neoliberalism that created Chile’s economic growth is no longer effective and that Chile may be headed towards adopting a welfare state model.

The October 2019 social explosion in Chile took everyone by surprise. The scale of protests and the violence of demonstrators had no precedent. Millions of people marched demanding change. Protesters embraced all sort of causes but one demand united them: they were against inequality and privilege. The police responded with force and were accused of multiple human rights violations.

For a long time, economists praised Chile’s market-oriented reforms. Moreover, Chile’s political system and institutions were ranked highly by think tanks such as Freedom House (2019). However, many analysts pointed out that inequality was Chile’s Achilles heel (Edwards 2010). Its Gini coefficient is one of the highest in the OECD although it has declined rapidly; during the last two decades, there has been significant progress in social conditions.

Chile went from being the poorest country in a sample of Latin American countries (jointly with Peru) to having the highest GDP per capita in the region (Figure 1). In 2016, Chile’s Gini was equal to the median in the region (Figure 2). Chile is among the countries that reduced inequality the fastest since 2000: the Gini declined from 56 to 46 between 2000 and 2016 (Figure 3). Other indicators of social progress, such as the Human Development Index,1 rank Chile in the first place in Latin America.’

Continue reading here.

Posted by at 12:34 PM

Labels: Inclusive Growth


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