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More to the Picture than Meets the Eye: On the Ultimate Causes behind the Chilean Economic Transformation

Author:

Martin Andersson

Lund University, SE
About Martin
Martin Andersson is Lecturer at the Economic History Department, Lund University, Sweden. His research interests centre on agricultural transformation, growthinequality dynamics, structural changes in development, Latin American development, and East and Southeast Asian development. Recent publications include ‘Spatial disparities and structural changes in Taiwan 1952-2006 (2008)’, background paper for the World Development Report 2009 (World Bank); and, coauthored with C. Gunnarsson and F. Gustafsson, ‘Globalization and the role of the state in the Asia-Pacific’ (2008), in Chong (ed.) Globalization and its Counterforces in Southeast Asia (ISEAS/Singapore).
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Abstract

In the contemporary development discussion on the causes behind the sustained economic growth in Chile since 1985, the predominant canon seldom attach importance to evolving processes taken place prior to the dramatic market oriented shift after 1973. From a long-term development perspective, however, such a view is unsatisfactory and potentially misleading because it tends to disregard the significance of institutional change and the agricultural transformation. Within a framework of long-term institutional change, a reinterpretation of the Chilean economic progress centred on the transformation of the Chilean agriculture is put forward. It is argued that ever since the 1930s a process of social change evolved that helped break down the growth inhibiting traditional institutional order. Specifically, the pressure for modernization, reaching its zenith at the time of the reforms of the latter half of the 1960s, broke elitist economic and political relations and led to agricultural transformation that portended and conditioned the effect of the shift to the market oriented regime of the 1970s and 1980s. 

Resumen: Más allá de las apariencias: las causas últimas de la transformación económica de Chile

En la discusión actual sobre las causas del sostenido crecimiento económico de Chile desde 1985, el canon predominante rara vez le otorga impor tancia a los procesos anteriores al dramático cambio de orientación hacia la economía de mercado de 1973. Sin embargo, desde una perspectiva de desarrollo a largo plazo, esta mirada es insatisfactoria y potencialmente desorientadora, dada su tendencia a ignorar la importancia del cambio institucional y la transformación de la agricultura que impulsó. Aquí se propone una reinterpretación del progreso de la economía chilena desde la perspectiva del cambio institucional a largo plazo, centrada en la transformación de la agricultura chilena. Se argumenta que, desde la década de los 30, se desarrolló un proceso de cambio social que contribuyó a poner fin al orden institucional tradicional que inhibía el crecimiento. Particularmente, la presión en pro de la modernización, que alcanzó su clímax durante las reformas de la segunda mitad de la década de los 60, generó una ruptura en las relaciones económicas y políticas elitistas y derivó en transformaciones de la agricultura que presagiaron y condicionaron los efectos del cambio introducidos por el régimen orientado hacia el mercado durante los años setenta y ochenta.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/erlacs.9609
How to Cite: Andersson, M. (2009). More to the Picture than Meets the Eye: On the Ultimate Causes behind the Chilean Economic Transformation. ERLACS, (86), 21–37. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/erlacs.9609
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Published on 15 Apr 2009.
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