NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 15, 2010

On January 11, Chile became the first South American country to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  With its accession to the OECD, which is effectively the club of the world's 30 developed nations, Chile has laid down an important milestone for anyone who cares about growth and freedom, says Ryan Streeter, a Senior Fellow with the London-based Legatum Institute.

Chile was experimental like no other country when it comes to economic liberalization, and it has benefited as a result, says Steeter:

  • The legendary "Chicago boys," a group of 30 Chileans who studied under economist Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, spent more than a decade in the 1970s and '80s liberalizing trade, deregulating markets, de-politicizing the economy and implementing a host of other free-market reforms.
  • Chile's resulting positive economic trajectory over the past several decades is a big part of why the OECD has admitted the nation.

By 2004, Chile had returned to the top rating in the Freedom House's index of political and civil liberties after its recovery from the long and dark years under Pinochet, says Streeter:

  • Before its worst trials began a generation ago, Chile enjoyed a fairly durable democracy, which then went through a terrible trial; but the country recovered the best of its past and began running ahead of its neighbors.
  • In the Legatum Institute's Prosperity Index, Chile tops the list of South America's largest countries (those with populations over 10 million), buoyed by its high scores in governance, safety and security, and the contribution of its policies to economic growth.
  • Together with its economic reforms, Chile has taken democratic governance seriously, creating an environment in which economic transactions are depoliticized, the rule of law is effective, and citizens are safe and free to choose their path.

Today, Chile stands as a clear reminder of the underpinnings of growth and progress to which many in the West have grown so accustomed that they may likely not recognize them anymore, says Streeter.

Source: Ryan Streeter, "Ascendant Chile Joins OECD: A Triumph of Liberty," American Enterprise Institute, January 12, 2010.

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