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Updated by Leonor Saravia on 23.01.2014

Chile has a long history in the implementation of social policies. It is one of the Latin American pioneers in extending non-contributory health care benefits and access to free education.

Over the last few years, the Chilean social security system has continuously strengthened itself, offering more protection for citizens against illness, disability, old age, unemployment, and poverty, among others. Although the state social security programmes, funded by the workers and general taxes, began in the 20th century, they have become more comprehensive and coordinated, making it possible to significantly increase the levels of coverage.

Chile currently has a broad social security system that protects the population against diverse contingencies over the course of their life cycle and emphasizes the protection of the most vulnerable population groups. In this respect, children living in 60 per cent of low-income households receive services and benefits that meet their needs during their first stage of development and more than 90,000 families living in extreme poverty receive psycho-social support.

The solidarity pension system, which complements the contributory system, covers the elderly belonging to the 60 per cent poorest families in the country.

The main challenges the country has set out in terms of social security are the eradication of poverty and the inclusion in the system of independent workers and those in the informal economy. The construction and consolidation of a Social Protection Floor could be the key in achieving these objectives.