Growth without equity: inequality, social citizenship, and the neoliberal model of development in Chile
Marcus, Benny Charles
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This work evaluates in terms of social citizenship or equity the neoliberal model of development as applied in Chile. The down-sizing of the state required for market liberalization occurs not just through retrenchment but also through different forms of decentralization: the transference of the provision of public goods and services to local and regional governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations. These shifting relationships of market, state, and society are necessarily inequitable. Because economic development is geographically uneven, local government revenues are unequal, thus disadvantaging people living in poorer areas in terms of their public services. The privatization of social services stratifies their benefits, such that services of higher quality and relative quantity are provided through the private sector to a minority of the population and services of lower quality and relative quantity are provided to the majority by the state. The more that civil society organizations are incorporated into governmental programs, the more they become dependent on the state and incapable of addressing the structural disadvantages of poorer communities. Chile is commonly regarded as a prime exemplar of the neoliberal model, and I test these hypotheses on the budgets of the 34 municipalities of Santiago, Chile, its municipalized public school system, and the activities of grassroots and nongovernmental organizations in a poor municipality of Santiago. I find substantial inequality of revenues, which significantly and substantially account for differences in public educational opportunities between municipalities, as measured by educational achievement tests. Grassroots organizations are financially dependent on the Muncipality/central government and they are largely incapable of addressing the primary problems of the community: the availability and quality of jobs, education, and health care. Nongovernmental organizations are also increasingly dependent on the state for funding and serve as a source of cheap and flexibilized labor for the implementation of government programs. These findings suggest that the implementation of neoliberal policies reproduces geographical and structural patterns of inequality and, rather than assisting and empowering the systematically excluded and disadvantaged, further excludes and disadvantages them. These new forms of stratification resulting from neoliberal policies lead to social malaise, insecurity, and social disintegration.