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Volume 55 / Social Sciences

ECONOMICS: CHILE


MARKOS J. MAMALAKIS, Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


THE DEMOCRATIC TRIUMPH OF CHILE, as exemplified by the smooth transition of the presidency from Patricio Aylwin to Eduardo Frei in 1994, reflects an improvement in the government's performance. The best publications annotated in this chapter share a high degree of consensus that the Pinochet presidency made a singular contribution to Chilean development through the formulation and implementation of liberal, nondiscriminatory, mesoeconomic, sectoral policies. Furthermore, it is increasingly recognized that without the unwavering support of Gen. Pinochet, the Liberal experiment could have failed. Thus, Pinochet is given as much credit for the Chilean success story as the Chicago Boys, if not more. On the other hand, it is universally recognized that the Pinochet presidency failed to create a politically and socially enlightened government.

Restoration of basic political and economic freedoms and human rights coincided with the 1989 election that brought Patricio Aylwin to power. Mesoeconomic policies in the areas of education, health, and welfare were redefined with increased emphasis placed on social justice and the welfare of the poor. The Aylwin presidency was characterized by phenomenal economic success based on a continuation and strengthening of the liberalization and privatization policies of the Pinochet era.

The Frei presidency began in 1994 with an aura of optimism. However, there was by then an increased awareness that unresolved problems of poverty, inequality, and often acute environmental degradation had to be addressed. Paradoxically, sustained prosperity undoubtedly is both a precondition for as well as a consequence of resolving these problems.

Major topics analyzed in the literature selected for this chapter include: foreign trade; income distribution and poverty; the mesoeconomic institutional reforms of the Pinochet and Aylwin presidencies; technology transfer; monetary policy; the nature of labor markets; the private pension scheme; agriculture; environmental decay; and so forth.

The vast majority of the scholarly work annotated below is characterized by objectivity, balance, and absence of extreme political bias. An impressive flow of truly outstanding publications emanated from the Departments and Institutes of Economics of the University of Chile, the Catholic University, the Center for Public Studies, The Central Bank of Chile, and the United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Among the many worthy publications, the following stand out in terms of their lasting contributions to Chilean economic historiography: 1) Juan Ricardo Couyoumdjian, Réne Millar, and Josefina Tocornal's Historia de la Bolsa de Comercio de Santiago, 1893-1993: un siglo de mercado de valores en Chile, an excellent history of the Santiago Stock Exchange (item bi 95001210); 2) ECLAC's "Una Estimación de la Magnitud de la Pobreza en Chile, 1987," which focuses on the profound, unresolved problem of persistent, large-scale, extreme poverty in Chile (item bi 93025393); 3) the historic document Quo vadis, Chile: versión completa del 11o Encuentro Nacional de la Empresa, which conveys the converging views of Chile's leaders regarding development and democracy (item bi 93010083); 4) Thelma Gálvez Pérez and Rosa Bravo Barja's pioneering historical study on female employment, Siete décadas de registro del trabajo femenino, 1854-1920 (item bi 94000617); and 5) Aníbal Pinto's perceptive review of the Chilean neoliberal paradigm, "Las Raíces del Experimento Ortodoxo Chileno" (item bi 94000375).


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