The Institutionalization of Neoliberal Reforms: A Case Study of Chile’s Housing Law and Policy

Neoliberalism has had a pervasive influence in many developed and developing countries around the world. Chile has been at the core of this trend. The country was a pioneer in implementing neoliberal reforms during the dictatorship that governed the country in the 1970s and 1980s, and, despite the fact that democratic governance resumed in 1990 and since then most of the time a center-left coalition has controlled the administration, the market-based approach still persists in most policy sectors. This paper examines the hegemony of neoliberal reforms through an in-depth case study on the trajectory of Chile’s influential market-based approach to housing law and policy in the last four decades. The main argument the paper provides is that the neoliberal regulatory rationale has been institutionalized into a set of formal and informal norms, institutional practices and ideas that over time have reduced the range of viable alternative regimes to the one adopted during the dictatorship.