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Chile’s Growth and Development: Leadership, Policy-Making Process, Policies, and Results


  • Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel


This paper analyzes the relations between leadership, the policy-making process, policies and institutions, and development results in Chile. It starts with a stylized model for the dynamics of development that derives a Kuznets-type relation between growth and distribution of income, determined by the quality of leadership, the policy-making process, institutions and policies. This framework is applied to Chile, identifying the features of the policy-making process and leadership that allowed for continuation of growth-enhancing reform, with a stronger focus on equity goals, since the transition to democracy. As a result of three decades of reforms, Chile has recorded a quantum leap in economic growth, which is traced down to specific reforms. Yet Chile’s equity experience is much more mixed: poverty has declined massively but income remains highly concentrated, a likely result of shortcomings in the quality of education and in labor markets. The paper reviews the major risks to the country’s future development pace and points out the main reform challenges faced by policymakers. Ten lessons from Chile’s experience close the paper.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, 2008. "Chile’s Growth and Development: Leadership, Policy-Making Process, Policies, and Results," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 507, Central Bank of Chile.
  • Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchwp:507

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eduardo Lora, 2001. "Structural Reforms in Latin America: What Has Been Reformed and How to Measure It," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 3338, Inter-American Development Bank.
    2. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    3. Barrios, Salvador & Strobl, Eric, 2009. "The dynamics of regional inequalities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 575-591, September.
    4. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
    5. Francisco Gallego & Norman Loayza, 2002. "The Golden Period for Growth in Chile. Explanations and Forecasts," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Norman Loayza & Raimundo Soto & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Series Editor) (ed.), Economic Growth: Sources, Trends, and Cycles, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 13, pages 417-464 Central Bank of Chile.
    6. Engel, Eduardo M. R. A. & Galetovic, Alexander & Raddatz, Claudio E., 1999. "Taxes and income distribution in Chile: some unpleasant redistributive arithmetic," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 155-192, June.
    7. Pablo T. Spiller, 2003. "The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy: A Transactions Approach with Application to Argentina," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 281-306, October.
    8. Cristóbal Aninat & John Londregan & Patricio Navia & Joaquín Vial, 2006. "Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes and Policy Outcomes in Chile," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 3371, Inter-American Development Bank.
    9. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    10. Richard B. Freeman, 1995. "Are Your Wages Set in Beijing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 15-32, Summer.
    11. Lant Pritchett, 1997. "Divergence, Big Time," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 3-17, Summer.
    12. Morawetz, David, 1977. "Income Distribution and Self-Rated Happiness: Some Empirical Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(347), pages 511-522, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, 2012. "The Political Economy of Distribution and Growth in Chile," Documentos de Trabajo 417, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..

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