FAMILY AND SOCIAL INEQUALITY IN CHILE

Prof. Dr. Juan Pablo Faúndez Allier Director of the Programme of Sciences for the Family, Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile Chile is currently at the centre of the world's attention. In the last two months we have witnessed an unprecedented social outburst that has evinced the conditions of structural inequality that have been hidden for almost three decades, but which are grounded in a cultural transformation that began to develop in the 1970s. Inequity in the distribution of resources had to generate, sooner or later, a social explosion as we have seen these days, even if macroeconomic indicators showed the opposite. Although the per capita income of the country reaches US$25.8 thousand, 1% of the population concentrates 26.5% of the wealth and 66.5% of the population gathers only 2.1% of the capital, which places it as the seventh most unequal country in the world. This explains why debt, as a lifestyle, has been gradually naturalised since 2009, through the phenomenon that specialists have described as the “democratisation of credit” or the “financing of poverty”, without having developed as an objective of social inclusion the credit education of the poorest, justly evidencing a lack of promotion of dignity in this area that is so sensitive for human development.

This is made clear in the analysis of the lifestyles of the socioeconomic groups of the country, which charts in more detail and from the perspective of the expectations driven by the activities of the population segments how cultural interests vary sharply depending on purchasing power. But the biggest problem is that the calculation of per capita income that is presented among the macroeconomic indices of Chile does not show the reality that a very high percentage of the population is currently experiencing at the level of family organisation. This “mirage” in the analysis of reality explains the high rate of dissatisfaction that is expressed in different economic areas and by different sections of the population. In this respect, from the perspective of the economic analysis that affects Chilean families, we find a country scenario that presents situations of clear vulnerability for most of the inhabitants of the nation, although in a context of meso and microeconomic invisibility that is elucidated when explored in indicators and effects such as those highlighted.


As a consequence of recent mobilisations, an important percentage of the population requests to overcome the inequality “gap” in the country. That is to say, we are facing a developing nation that has not been able to ‘horizontalise’ or distribute the amount of per capita income, so it faces the year 2020 with a huge challenge ahead, which means overcoming inequality in a context of great socio-political destabilisation that already keeps it away from the attempt to position itself as a developed country in the coming decades.

On the basis of the above, it seems that the wish that fostered the overcoming of the life aspirations of the last generations will remain as it is, an ideal wish. In the attempt to show how the solidification of inequality is nourished by economic differences, which arose from the place of birth, we can conclude that, unless a structural change is deepened, the perspectives and horizons of personal development will continue to be practically insurmountable for millions of Chileans.

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