SANTIAGO – Chile’s social explosion has shown the world just how unhappy ordinary Chileans are about economic inequality and what they see as the inability or unwillingness of politicians to address the issue.
Inequality in Chile has many faces, but the 10 statistics listed below go a long way toward explaining the anger and frustration that has spurred weeks of massive demonstrations.
- One percent of the population holds 26.5 percent of Chile’s wealth, while the bottom 50 percent have just 2.1 percent, according to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Seven in every 10 Chilean workers earn less than $745 a month, and 53 percent make less than $540 monthly. The proportion earning more than $2,000 a month is just 6.1 percent.
- The monthly salary of members of Congress is $12,600, 31 times the minimum wage. President Sebastian Piñera announced a few days ago that lawmakers’ pay will be cut, but the size of the reduction remains to be determined.
- More than 4.6 million Chileans, or 26 percent of the population, were behind on debt in the first quarter of this year, a study by Equifax and San Sebastian University found.
- On average, Chilean households have debts equal to 73.5 percent of their income, according to the Central Bank.
- Half of the nearly 700,000 Chileans on retirement pensions were receiving less $205 a month as of the end of 2018.
- The six privately owned pension fund administrators who run Chile’s retirement system under an arrangement dating to the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship saw their profits soar 70 percent in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2018.
- Chile has some of the most expensive public universities among the member-states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with average annual tuition of $7,654, second only to the United States.
- The median price of a one-month supply of a non-generic prescription drug is $28.50, the highest in Latin America, according to a 2017 study by US-based consultancy IMS Health.
- Eighty percent of Chileans get healthcare from a poorly funded public system plagued by shortages and long waiting lists.