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”.


About Philip Brown

Development economist Philip H. Brown has lived and worked in rural China, East Africa, Central America, and South America as part of his efforts to understand and combat extreme poverty in developing regions. His more than 30 published articles and presentations at international conferences have earned Phil Brown recognition as an accomplished scholar and researcher, especially in the field of Chinese economics. After obtaining his Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy from Colorado College, Phil Brown gained valuable hands-on experience working at a refugee camp in Tanzania. He enrolled in the School for International Training to receive additional specialized instruction in sustainable development before earning his Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan. Phil Brown received fellowships from the Spencer Foundation and the University of Michigan Rackham School of Graduate Studies. In addition to serving on the Colby College faculty for eight years, Brown also worked as an international consultant for the National Developmental and Reform Commission of China, and co-edited the China Economic Review. Phil Brown continues to generate valuable data and research in the field of developmental economics. His most recent article, “Cash Transfers and Poverty Reduction in Chile,” is slated to be published in the Journal of Regional Science. Phil Brown’s recent work generates valuable data and research on the economics of natural disasters such as the 1997 forest fires in Indonesia and the 2008 cyclone in Burma. An analytical piece describing how media coverage affected charitable donations during the tsunami in Southeast Asia brought Phil Brown added distinction when both the New York Times and the popular economics book SuperFreakonomics featured his research findings. He is currently working with data from American charities to evaluate how demographic characteristics of neighborhoods influence giving for disaster relief. When he is not engaged in economic research, Phil Brown enjoys whitewater rafting, kayaking, and baking bread.