The Fight Against Poverty in Chile, By Phillip H. Brown

Although Chile has seen significant reductions in poverty in the past 20 years, the country continues to suffer from high economic inequality. As of 2006, approximately 14 percent of the population in Chile lives in poverty. While this is dramatically lower than the nearly 40 percent of the population that lived in poverty in 1987, it remains a point of concern.

In a recent article I co-authored with Claudio A. Agostini of the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez entitled “Cash Transfers and Poverty Reduction in Chile,” we examined the various anti-poverty programs that have been launched to address the problem. We used data-mapping methodologies to compare the effectiveness of these initiatives at the sub-regional level.

Our research has showed that direct cash transfers have helped to greatly reduce the number of impoverished individuals by between 5 percent and 68 percent. These cash transfers have been particularly effective in rural areas where topography has also been found to have a role in their success. These findings can help guide Chile toward more focused and successful policies to combat poverty.

About Philip H. Brown
Development economist Philip H. Brown studies poverty and solutions to poverty, as well as health, education, the environment, and gender. He also studies the economics of natural disasters, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Brown holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Philip Brown’s work has been featured in Time magazine, The New York Times, and the book “Superfreakonomics”.