Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Understanding Inequality in Chile: A Revisited Dependency Analysis of Education

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posted on 2021-11-13, 03:27 authored by Kennedy, Colin M.

This thesis makes a case for a revisited dependency analysis in understanding how socio-economic inequality is produced and reproduced. It illustrates that a succession of Chilean governments has been unable, despite policies from across the full political spectrum, to disrupt the processes of disparity. As the study spans a considerable timeframe, the research is divided into two sections: 1964 – 1989 and 1990 – 2010. The data from the initial time period reveals that levels of inequality remained as high as at any other time in the previous thirty years. The return to democracy under the Concertación (1990 – 2010) brought a policy emphasis to reduce inequality, but the impact was also less than what had been hoped for. The research uses descriptive statistics to track persistent patterns of inequality in contexts such as income, healthcare, employment and education. This is combined with interviews with various academics and policy-makers concerning their perceptions of the roots and consequences of Chilean inequality, and their opinions regarding the impact of various policies upon it. Despite the considerable amount of existing research addressing socio-economic inequality there is a conspicuous gap in the literature regarding the role of dependency analysis. The thesis includes a case study of educational inequalities under the Concertación and undertakes a dependency analysis of the situation. Through this work it is evident that the features of structural heterogeneity and educational commodification, along with a failure to place social and class relations at the centre of such an approach, has prevented any progressive change. The thesis posits a set of theoretical assertions and policy recommendations that are intended to counter the criticisms that have forced dependency to the peripheries of development thinking. In summary, this research makes theoretical, empirical and policy contributions to the understanding of the processes of socio-economic disparity, within and beyond the education sector, both in Chile and elsewhere.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Murray, Warwick