Chile's Innovations in Social Welfare: Principles and Policies

December 31, 1998


For most of this century, the remarkable stability of Chilean political institutions was linked to the belief that a democratic state would guarantee economic development and social mobility. In the past three decades, as the country has moved from democratic to authoritarian rule and back to democracy, significant changes have affected the extent and mechanism of state involvement in social provision.

In the synopsis presented here, it is argued that those changes have been shaped by the interweaving of politics and ideas as well as internal and international factors.  The analysis centers around the evolution of institutional arrangements in the country's political economy. Over time, Chile has been converted into a prototype of policy experimentation, not only because of the "revolutionary" character of many of its reforms, but also because of the early and growing internationalization of intellectual and political elites and policy paradigms.