We analyze the evolution of homicide rates in Chile, as a proxy of interpersonal violence, from the 1880s to the 2010s. Homicides rates are the best measure of a country’s personal security, and a key variable of well-being. We found that the homicides rates were high during the late nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century. From the 1930s homicide rates started to decline initially gradually, but then sharply during the 1950s-1960s. During the 1960s-1990s, the country’s homicide rates were low by international standards. However, they have increased during the last two decades. Our regression suggests that increased social spending in the past is associated with reduced homicides in the present, that past and concurrent economic growth also correlates with a reduction in the rate of homicides, and that increased police presence is correlated with a reduction in the rate of homicides. The 1930s-1960s are a key period in the evolution of interpersonal violence. It coincides with the emergence of a welfare state (and increasing social expenditure), declining poverty rates, improvements in health and education, and an increase in suffrage.