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A policy decision to increase public transport fares in Chile earlier this month triggered nearly two weeks of mass protests across Chile's largest cities, including the capital city of Santiago. While Chilean President Sebastián Piñera last week announced economic reforms to bring peace to the country - raising pensions, monthly minimum wages, and taxes on the wealthy - the socio-economic deficits of the country have been exposed and the youth mobilized.

Prosperity for Chile is real and measurable ... At the end of the 20th century, Chile carried out radical economic reforms. Through the fostering of private entrepreneurship, the rejection of protectionism, the reduction of state regulation and other measures, the Chilean government managed to perform a policy "miracle" in the shortest possible timeframe. Today, Chile is the most prosperous country in South America and is classified by the OECD as a "developed economy" based on its gross national income per capita and high human development index score. 

... but it is not universal. Despite outstanding general economic results, Chile continues to struggle with a variety of socio-economic problems, including the highest level of economic inequality among developed countries, a high level of dissatisfaction with health care and education services, and a troublesome marriage of high cost of living and one of the lowest minimum wage levels among OECD countries.

Chile's socio-economic shortfalls resonate especially deeply among the country's youth as they have never lived under a poor economy with a dictatorial regime and compare today's Chile with economic opportunities in other developed countries. The question now is how far and how fast will reforms come to the population that was mobilized by what the government now acknowledges was a poorly implemented policy adjustment.

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