The Chilean Pension Reform: A Pioneering Program
NBER Working Paper No. 5811
In the mid-1970s Chile initiated a deep market-oriented reform program aimed at opening up the economy, privatizing state owned enterprises and stabilizing the macroeconomy. In the 1980s Chile began to grow at increasingly rapid rates -- between 1986 and 1995 the average rate of growth bordered 7% --, becoming a star performer. Perhaps one of the most admired aspects of the Chilean program has been the reform of the pension system, which replaced an inefficient pay-as-you-go system with a privately administered defined contribution one. " This reform has been credited with helping develop Chile's capital market, with reducing government contingent liabilities and with helping boost Chile's traditionally anemic savings rate. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the most salient aspects of the Chilean program and to evaluate its achievements to date. The paper provides a brief background of the Chilean reforms effort and deals with Chile's old pay-as-you-go system, including its degree of (in)efficiency, its distributive characteristics and its fiscal consequences. The functioning of the new privately managed system is discussed in detail, and the system's results up to date are evaluated. I also discuss transitional issues, including the fiscal consequences of the reforms. Finally, the analysis also deals with the reforms effects on labor markets and savings.