Chile - Social development

Prior to the 1973 coup, Chile had built one of the most comprehensive social welfare systems in the world, with over 50 separate agencies participating in programs. Following the military's accession to power in 1973, many of the welfare benefits were suspended, and regulations lapsed. From 1974 to 1981, the junta remodeled the welfare system along the lines of private enterprise.

A mandatory private insurance system was introduced in 1981. Pensions are financed exclusively by workers, whose contributions go into individual accounts with Administrators of Pension Funds, which are private social security institutions. Workers must contribute 10% of their taxable income to pension funds monthly, up to a certain limit, 7% of their remuneration for medical care, and about 3% for disability or life insurance, depending on the pension management company chosen. Employers are not required to contribute, and the government provides subsidies for a guaranteed minimum pension. Workers have the option of choosing between the public National Health Service System and a private social security health institute system.

A 1989 law removed many restrictions on women, although some legal distinctions exist, and divorce is illegal. The average earnings of women with university training were only 54% of those of men with equivalent backgrounds. The labor code provides benefits for pregnant workers. Sexual abuse and domestic violence are becoming increasingly addressed by the government. In 1999 human rights language in the Chilean constitution was amended to refer to "persons" rather than "men."

A 1993 law recognizes ethnic diversity and allows indigenous Mapuche some decision making rights over their land and cultures. Bilingual education is to be introduced in some schools.

Excessive use of force by police has been reported, as well as failure to observe due process of law and other human rights abuses toward detainees.

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