Social Change and Children's Well-being in Chile

TitleSocial Change and Children's Well-being in Chile
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsIwanaga, Kanako
Academic DepartmentSociology
Thesis AdvisorEdwards, Mark
DegreeBachelor of Arts in International Studies in Sociology
Number of Pages62
Date Published03/2007
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
Keywordschild abuse, Chile, economic growth, health programs, social spending

Chilean society has been changing rapidly for the last few decades during a time of rapid economic growth. Some sociological and economical analyses state that when a nation grows, inequality between the rich and poor grows too, leaving the poor behind. The Chilean economy is the most rapidly growing in Latin America in recent years. It is therefore important to examine whether or not the people's quality of life has improved in Chile over the last few years. Particularly, I focused on how the well-being of Chilean children has been changing over time. In addition, I looked at political issues about how the former leader, Augusto Pinochet, has been influencing both the political parties and the public. In terms of family issues, Chile is facing a serious issue; namely, it has one of the highest child abuse rates in the world. Also, I examined how new policies regarding health programs such as contraception and sex education have been difficult to advance in Chilean society because of the power of the Roman Catholic Church. Finally, I addressed new initiatives that the new president, Michelle Bachelet, has been promoting. In short, this thesis addresses this question -- what makes people's well-being improve over-time?
My approach was conducted using any available public literatures, via electronic methods, and my case study from El Monte, Chile where I conducted a participant observation.
The main findings substantiated the claim that people's quality of life has been improving because of Chile's rapid economic growth, increase of government's social spending, and the maintenance of traditional social structure. However, economic growth is also leading to a decline in children's health status because of declining environmental quality.