The mirage of development: Oil, employment, and poverty in Ecuador (1972-1990)
Latin America's social development record has been weak. Poverty and underemployment remain widespread due to both poor social distribution and unstable economic growth. The dissertation presents a case study of contemporary Ecuador, which examines the economic and socio-political obstacles to social development. Ecuador has been strongly affected by social inequality and structural unemployment. The contrast between rapid economic growth in the 1970s and poor trickle down effects is striking. Two periods are analyzed: the oil boom, and the subsequent crisis.
The multidisciplinary methodological approach starts with an analysis of employment, income distribution, migrations, and poverty, conducted at both national and micro-regional levels. The regional study includes a multiple regression model of the effects of social structures on migration and multivariate socio-economic typologies, based on factor and cluster analyses, of Ecuador's cities and rural areas. Ecuador's development policies are then analyzed in terms of the study's findings. Finally, a historical-structural approach is utilized to explain the country's weak social performance. A broader socio-political analysis of class transformation, modernization, and development policies complements the economic elements of the study.
Development strategies during the oil boom were strongly biased towards urban and modern sectors. During the 1980s, structural adjustment has been partial and unsuccessful. Despite high initial economic growth rates, social achievements were modest. The informal sector expanded, and the employment structure deteriorated both during the boom and the crisis. Income distribution gains, restricted mostly to urban middle classes, were swept away by the crisis and the attainment of basic needs improved only modestly.
Adverse results of import substituting industrialisation and subsequent structural adjustment policies are analyzed, as well as the "Dutch Disease" effect of the export boom. From a political perspective, Ecuador's failure to adopt redistributive development strategies is explained by the lack of support for alternative policies within civil society. Modernization and portfolio diversification of dominant classes took place without affecting the traditional exclusionary traits of capital accumulation in the country. Both the political conservation of emerging new sectors of the dominant classes and the weakness of popular organization prevented redistributive policies from being implemented.
0509: Economic history
0615: Political science