La desigualdad espacial en Ecuador: un enfoque de brechas estructurales (2002-2017)

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


Spatial patterns of organization in Ecuador show significant inequalities reflected in permanent differences between paces and levels of development and economic growth of territorial units. This investigation identifies and substantiates the main determining factors of subnational territorial inequalities through neo-structuralism and neo-institutionalism theories and a methodology with a broader vision of the concept of development using a structural gap approach. This inclusive and holistic perspective confirms, on one hand, that the generally accepted use of GDP per capita as an indicator of national or regional development is insufficient to express the reality that is not only economic and productive, but also social, institutional and territorial. The obtained results establish a taxonomy of development at city-level that reflects a dramatic reality due to the magnitude of territorial inequality and with a clear tendency to become persistent and wider. The determining factors that characterize this territorial landscape are found in historical starting conditions related to institutional structures that privileged economic and productive territorial concentration. From there, territorial disparities have evolved stronger, and they are reflected in all dimensions: economic, social, institutional and spatial. Subsequently, and with this territorial environment, an in-depth analysis of the notion of structural heterogeneity was applied to a comparative case study where the city is the unit of analysis. In this regard, it is confirmed that heterogeneity is the main source that determines the level and evolution of territorial inequalities whose characteristics are similar at a national level; however, the disparities reach exacerbated magnitudes in the cities and they are reproduced through productive structures which are not very diversified across sectors, a low-productivity employment market with a massive presence of informal employment and adverse social conditions in comparison with big cities. In addition, through a qualitative analysis, the level of interaction and consultation of local actors considered a fundamental factor in territorial development is discussed in the case study. The results show a weak local institutional framework with a high degree of dislocation and lack of interactivity of its actors, constituting in this way, another factor that affects the territorial inequalities and their underdevelopment. This study aims at contributing to understand the phenomenon of territorial inequality as an academic input for the preparation of local public policies and to enrich the debate of the economic and social development in the city.
Date of Award4 Dec 2018
Original languageSpanish
SupervisorMontserrat Pallarés Barberá (Director) & Ana Pilar Vera Martin (Director)


  • Structural gaps
  • Unequal territorialities

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