Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-nqqt6 Total loading time: 0.258 Render date: 2022-07-04T10:45:56.896Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 May 2021

Magdalena Gil
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chilea
Jorge Atria
Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chileb


Socio-natural disasters remain underexplored events in economic history, even though they stress societies in several ways and are known for their relationship with institutional change. In this paper, we explore this issue showing that major earthquakes in Chile have become a window of opportunity for important fiscal reforms. Our findings indicate that there are two mechanisms to explain this relationship: first, reconstruction demands greater state expenditure and intervention; and second, the emergence of narratives that justify these reforms, such as patriotism and solidarity. However, data show that in the case of Chile, changes following disasters have had little impact on the overall tax structure of the country, and the historical preference for indirect taxes has been maintained, with limited power to impose taxes on high-income groups.



Los desastres socio-naturales no han sido mayormente explorados por la historia económica, aun cuando suelen generar crisis de gran envergadura y es sabido que son capaces de generar importantes cambios institucionales. En este artículo exploramos este tema mostrando que, en Chile, los grandes terremotos han generado ventanas de oportunidad para importantes reformas fiscales. Nuestros resultados indican que hay dos mecanismos para explicar esta relación: primero, la reconstrucción y recuperación post desastre demanda alta inversión pública, y esto a menudo significa mayores impuestos. En segundo lugar, la aparición de narrativas que justifican las reformas, como patriotismo o solidaridad. Sin embargo, los datos muestran que la mayoría de los cambios han tenido poco impacto en la estructura tributaria general del país, debido a dificultades para incluir impuestos a grupos de altos ingresos y una preferencia histórica por los impuestos indirectos.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Instituto Figuerola, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



School of Engineering, National Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (CIGIDEN).


Department of Sociology, Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (COES).


Agostini, C., and Islas, G. (2018): «Evolución del impuesto al ingreso en Chile: Desigualdad y grupos de presión», in I. Jaksic, A. Estefane and C. Robles (Eds), Historia Poliítica de Chile, 1810–2010 / Tomo III: Problemas Económicos. Santiago de Chile: Fondo de Cultura Económica, pp. 207–238.Google Scholar
Albala-Bertrand, J. M. (1993): Political Economy of Large Natural Disasters: With Special Reference to Developing Countries. Oxford. UK: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
Alston, L. J., Melo, M. A., Mueller, B., and Pereira, C. (eds) (2016): Brazil in Transition: Beliefs, Leadership and Institutional Change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, B. (1983): Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London, NY: Verso.Google Scholar
Atria, J. (2015): «La relación entre desigualdad e impuestos como fuente de conflicto social: el caso de Chile», in Castillo, M., y Maldonado, C. (eds), Desigualdad: tolerancia, legitimación y conflicto en las sociedades latinoamericanas. Santiago: RIL, pp. 247–278.Google Scholar
Atria, J. (2019): «Legalism and Creativity: Tax Non-Compliance in the Eyes of the Economic Elite». International Review of Sociology, 29 (1), pp. 58-79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bank, S., Stark, K., and Thorndike, J. (2008): War and Taxes. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
Behm, H. (1942): Política de la vivienda seguida por la Corporacion de Reconstrucción y Auxilio. Santiago: Imprenta Leblanc.Google Scholar
Bird, R. (2013): «Tax Reform in Latin America: A Review of Some Recent Experiences». Latin American Research Review, 27 (1), pp. 7-36.Google Scholar
Blyth, M. (2002): Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Borland, J. (2011): «Capitalizing on Catastrophe: Reinvigorating the Japanese State with Moral Values through Education Following the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake». Modern Asian Studies, 40 (4), pp. 875-907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Braun, R. (1975): «Taxation, Sociopolitical Structure, and State-Building: Great Britain and Brandenburg-Prussia», in Tilly, C. (ed.), The Formation of National States in Western Europe. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 243-327.Google Scholar
Brubaker, R. (2004): «In the Name of the Nation: Reflections on Nationalism and Patriotism». Citizenship Studies, 8 (2), pp. 115-127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buchenau, J., and Johnson, L. (2009): Aftershocks: Earthquakes and Popular Politics in Latin America. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
Campbell, J. (1993): «The State and Fiscal Sociology». Annual Review of Sociology, 19 (1), pp. 163-185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cavallo, E., Galiani, S., Noy, I., and Pantano, J. (2010): Catastrophic Natural Disasters and Economic Growth. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Centeno, M. A. (2002): Blood and Debt: War and the Nation-State in Latin America. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
Choi, V. (2015): «Anticipatory States: Tsunami, War, and Insecurity in Sri Lanka». Cultural Anthropology, 30 (2), pp. 286-309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clancey, G. (2006): «The Meji Earthquake: Nature, Nation and the Ambiguities of Catastrophe». Modern Asian Studies, 40 (4), pp. 909-951.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cummins, J. D., and Mahul, O. (2009): Catastrophe Risk Financing in Developing Countries: Principles for Public Intervention. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
Dickie, J. (2008): Una catastrofe patriottica. 1908: il terremoto di Messina. Italy: Bari-Rome: Editori Laterza.Google Scholar
Dominguez, C. E. (1981): «Three Modes of Planning and the Experience of Professional Planners». Department of Urban Planning. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PhD dissertation.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dynes, R. (2005): «The Lisbon Earthquake in 1755: The First Modern Disaster», in Braun, T. and Radner, J. B. (eds), The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: Representations and Reactions. Oxford, UK: Voltaire Foundation, pp. 34-49.Google Scholar
Ejsmentewicz, D. (2013): «¿Cómo financiar los procesos de reconstrucción?» CIPER. Available at Scholar
Feldman, N., and Slemrod, J. (2009): «War and Taxation: When Does Patriotism Overcome the Free-Rider Impulse?», in Martin, I., Mehrotra, A. and Prassad, M. (eds), The New Fiscal Sociology Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 138-154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fengler, W., Ihsan, A., and Kaiser, K. (2008): «Managing Post-Disaster Reconstruction Finance. International Experience in Public Financial Management». Policy Research Working Paper. The World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fernández, E. (2003): Estado y sociedad en Chile, 1891–1931. El estado excluyente, la lógica estatal oligárquica y la formación de la sociedad. Santiago, Chile: LOM Editorial.Google Scholar
Flores, I., Sanhueza, C., Atria, J., and Mayer, R. (2020): «Top Incomes in Chile: A Historical Perspective on Income Inequality, 1964–2017». Review of Income and Wealth, 66 (4), pp. 850874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Foxley, A., Aninat, E., and Arellano, J. (1980): Las desigualdades económicas y la acción del estado. México, DF: Fondo de Cultura Económica.Google Scholar
Geys, B., and Konrad, K. (2016): «Patriotism and Taxation». Working Papers of the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance. Available at Scholar
Gil, M. (2017): «The Reconstruction of Valparaiso's Urban Value after the 1906 Earthquake». ARQ, 97, pp. 78-89.Google Scholar
Healey, M. (2011): The Ruins of the New Argentina: Peronism and the Remaking of San Juan after the 1944 Earthquake. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
Jofré, J., Lüders, R., and Wagner, G. (2000): «Economía Chilena1810-1995: Cuentas Fiscales». EH-Clio Lab. Working Paper #188.Google Scholar
Lavoie, R. (2011): «Patriotism and Taxation: The Tax Compliance Implications of the Tea Party Movement». Loyola Law Review, 45 (39), pp. 39-60.Google Scholar
Legrenzi, G. (2004): «The Displacement Effect in the Growth of Governments». Public Choice, 120 (1–2), pp. 191-204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levi, M. (1988): On Rule and Revenue. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Lomnitz, C. (2004): «Major Earthquakes of Chile: A Historical Survey, 1535–1960». Seismological Research Letters, 75 (3), pp. 368-378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mahon, J. (2004): «Causes of Tax Reform in Latin America». Latin American Research Review, 39 (1), pp. 3-30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martin, I. W., and Prasad, M. (2014): «Taxes and Fiscal Sociology». Annual Review of Sociology, 40, pp. 331-345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martin, I. W., Mehrotra, A. K., and Prasad, M. (2009): «The Thunder of History: The Origins and Development of the New Fiscal Sociology», in Martin, I. W., Mehrotra, A. K., and Prasad, M. (eds), The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martland, S. (2006): «Reconstructing the City, Constructing the State: Government in Valparaiso after the Earthquake of 1906». Hispanic American Historical Review, 87 (2), pp. 221-254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meller, P. (1996): Un siglo de Economía Política Chilena (1890–1990). Santiago de Chile: Editorial Andres Bello.Google Scholar
Muñoz, O., and Arriagada, A. M. (1977): Orígenes políticos y económicos del estado empresarial en Chile. Santiago de Chile: Corporación de Investigaciones Económicas para Latinoamérica.Google Scholar
Noy, I. (2009): «Macroeconomic Consequences of Natural Disasters». Journal of Development Economics, 88, pp. 221-231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
O'Brien, A. F. (1977): «The Politics of Dependency: A Case Study of Dependency, Chile 1938–1945». University of Notre Dame, Doctoral dissertation.Google Scholar
OECD. (2015): «In it Together. Why Less Inequality Benefits All: Chile». Available at Scholar
Oliver-Smith, A., and Hoffman, S. M. (1999): The Angry Earth: Disaster in Anthropological Perspective. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Onetto, M. (2017): Discursos desde la catástrofe. Santiago, Chile: Acto Editores.Google Scholar
Parker, R. S. (2006): «Hazards of Nature, Risks to Development: an IEG Evaluation of World Bank Assistance for Natural Disasters», Washington, DC: World Bank. Available at Scholar
Peacock, A. T., and Wiseman, J. (1961): The Growth of Public Spending in the United Kingdom. NBER Books. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Pinto, J. (1987): «Valparaíso: metrópoli financiera del boom del salitre», in Pinto, J. and Baldomero, E. (eds), Valparaíso 1536–1986. Valparaíso: Ediciones Altazor, pp. 119–150.Google Scholar
Rasmussen, T. (2004): «Macroeconomic Implications of Natural Disasters in the Caribbean». IMF Working Paper. Available at (accessed November 2020).Google Scholar
Rivera, E. (2012): «Antecedentes y proposiciones para la reforma tributaria del 2012 en Chile». Colección Ideas, Año 13, No 128. Available at Scholar
Rodríguez, A., and Gajardo, C. (1906): La catástrofe del 16 de Agosto de 1906 en la república de Chile. Santiago de Chile: Imprenta Barcelona.Google Scholar
Savala, J. (2018): «‘Let Us Bring it with Love’: Violence, Solidarity, and the Making of a Social Disaster in the Wake of the 1906 Earthquake in Valparaíso, Chile». Journal of Social History, 51 (4), pp. 928-952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scheve, K., and Stasavage, D. (2016): Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schmutzer, K. (2000): «El puerto: comercio, ingresos, los hombres e infraestructura», in Estrada-Turra, B., Cavieres, E., Schmutzer, K., and Méndez, L. M. (eds), Valparaíso: sociedad y economía en el siglo XIX. Valparaíso: Ediciones Universitarias, pp. 124-125.Google Scholar
Sehnbruch, K., Agloni, N., Imilan, W., and Sanhueza, C. (2017): «Social Policy Responses of the Chilean State to the Earthquake and Tsunami of 2010». Latin American Perspectives, 44 (4), pp. 24-40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sewell, W. (2005): Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation. Chicago, ILL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sokoloff, K., and Zolt, E. (2007): «Inequality and the Evolution of Institutions of Taxation: Evidence from the Economic History of the Americas», in Edwards, S., Esquivel, G., and Márquez, G. (eds), The Decline of Latin American Economies: Growth, Institutions, and Crises. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, pp. 83-136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stallings, B. (1978): Class Conflict and Economic Development in Chile: 1958–1973. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Steinmo, S. (2003): «The Evolution of Policy Ideas: Tax Policy in the 20th Century». British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 5 (2), pp. 206-236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Super, R. (1975): «The Chilean Popular Front Presidency of Pedro Aguirre Cerda, 1938–1941». Arizona State University, PhD dissertation.Google Scholar
Tilly, C. (1985): «War Making and State Making as Organized Crime», in Evans, P., Rueschemeyer, D., and Skocpol, T. (eds), Bringing the State Back In. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 169-187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vera, R. (1942): Historia de la deuda externa de Chile. Santiago de Chile: Imprenta Roma.Google Scholar
Vitale, L. (1990): La deuda externa en Chile entre 1822 y la década de 1980. Santiago de Chile: Ediciones Universidad de Chile.Google Scholar
Wagner-Pacifici, R. (2016): What is an Event? Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
WORLD BANK. (1961A): “Current Economic Position and Prospects of Chile”. Report. June 1, 1960.Google Scholar
WORLD BANK. (1961B): “Report and Recommendations of the President to the Executive Directors on a Proposed Development Credit to the Republic of Chile”. Report. June 19, 1961.Google Scholar
Zegers, L. (1906): «El terremoto del 16 de agosto» Anales de la Universidad de Chile, Tomo CXIX, pp. 3-32.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Gil and Atria supplementary material

Gil and Atria supplementary material

Download Gil and Atria supplementary material(File)
File 18 KB

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *