Ecuador: Model of successful integration of indigenous people

Term Paper, 2007

12 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Socio-cultural background of indigenous people

3. Socioeconomic profile
3.1. Poverty levels
3.2. Labour market participation

4. Government policies towards indigenous people

5. Levels of social organization
5.1. The development of indigenous people’s social organizations
5.2. Social Networks

6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The indigenous people in Ecuador can be distinguished from many other Latin American countries for the way their movement has shaped national debate and policymaking. Indigenous groups, also called Amerindians, have shown a great capacity to mobilize and negotiate with the national government as well as to achieve their goals democratically. In general, indigenous peoples in Ecuador suffer from economic deprivation, but are well endowed in social capital. Indigenous people’s organizations range from grassroots, regional, to national levels. Despite this increased political influence, the indigenous population continues to suffer from poverty and exclusion – and remain the poorest groups in a multicultural Ecuadorian society. In addition to being among the poorest groups in Ecuador, indigenous households also have lower human capital endowments (health and education). Indigenous individuals have lower education and schooling attendance and worse nutritional conditions than non-indigenous individuals within the same consumption quintiles. The probability of being poor is higher for indigenous individuals and households, even after controlling for education, health and other factors.

In the first part socio-cultural background of indigenous people is reviewed. The ethnically diverse Ecuadorian society is analyzed as well as the representation of indigenous people in it. In the second part of the paper the socio-economic profile of indigenous people is analyzed in terms of the degree of poverty and labor market participation. The indigenous people labour market participation is viewed in terms of occupation and sectors; and determinants of employment. In the following part government policies and programmes are seen at more historical view through the development and integration of indigenous people in the Ecuadorian society. In the last part the levels of social organization are analyzed with the inclusion of social networks, which plays an important role for the indigenous people’s employment.

2. Socio-cultural background of indigenous people

Demographically, Ecuador's population is ethnically diverse. The largest ethnic group is comprised of Mestizos, the mixed descendants of Spanish colonists and indigenous Native Americans, who constitute 65% of the population. Amerindians are second in numbers and account for 25% of the current population. Whites, mainly criollos, the unmixed descendants of early Spanish colonists, as well as immigrants from other European and Latin American countries, and account for some 7%.

There is a small Afro-Ecuadorian minority, including Mulattos and zambos, which accounts for 3% of the Ecuadorian population.

Indigenous peoples are important parts of Ecuador’s multicultural society. They differ from the mainstream Hispanic (white and mixed or mestizo) population both in their degree of economic deprivation, their high level of social capital, and their cultural and social characteristics. There are 13 officially designated, non-Hispanic ethnic groups or nationalities in Ecuador. The largest nationality comprises the highland Quichua-speakers (also known as the Runa) who constitute more than 90 percent of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples. Many indigenous people have moved to urban areas and in some cases have become assimilated into the dominant mestizo society. However, in rural areas they have tended to maintain their distinct identity. Ecuador’s rural population of indigenous peoples is concentrated in 288 of the country’s 966 parroquias (parishes, the smallest division in the country). This segment of the Ecuadoran population represents more than 1.5 million people.

3. Socioeconomic profile

3.1. Poverty levels

Gross Domestic Product per Capita in Ecuador is estimated at 3,050 for 2006. There is an average growth rate from 1996 to 2006, which amounts to above 4 percent. Due to some socio demographic factors and their low endowment in human capital, indigenous people’s income generation is under the average income generated in Ecuador.1

Indigenous individuals have lower education and schooling attendance and worse nutritional conditions than non-indigenous individuals within the same consumption quintiles and therefore the probability of being poor for indigenous households is higher than for non indigenous. The factors, which have influence on poverty, can be viewed at rural and urban. Urban poverty in Ecuador is associated with low educational achievement, employment in the informal sector, and low rates of participation in the labor force by women, while rural poverty is associated with lack of education, little access to land, and a low degree of market integration.

3.2. Labour market participation

Occupations and sectors

Ecuador’s workforce consists of 14 percent indigenous people (World Bank, 2007). The economically active indigenous are predominantly located in rural areas (94 percent) while this is not the case for non-indigenous (52 percent). The vast majority of indigenous engage in income generating activities in areas where economic opportunities are less diversified and where markets are limited, hard to access and at times absent.2

Table 1: Ecuador’s labour market participation

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: 1169235401815/Ecuador.pdf

An overview of the composition of labor market participation (Table 2) shows that indigenous are more likely to engage in unskilled labor and to work in agriculture. In addition, indigenous people are more willing to work without pay, than are the non-indigenous. These findings hold true for both rural and urban areas. In addition, 87 percent of indigenous in rural areas report having a second occupation or activity, while only 22 percent of rural non-indigenous do, indicating a common need among rural indigenous to complement primary activities – mostly unwaged agricultural work. In terms of unskilled employment, indigenous and non-indigenous have similar participation rates in waged employment. Indigenous are more likely to work in the agricultural sector when engaging in waged labor than the non-indigenous. Looking at skilled employment, participation in waged labor is higher for non-indigenous than indigenous, in particular in urban areas where 42 percent of the non-indigenous work force engage in skilled waged labor compared to only 26 percent of the indigenous.





Excerpt out of 12 pages


Ecuador: Model of successful integration of indigenous people
Furtwangen University
Latin American Economy
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ISBN (Book)
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Ecuador, Model, Latin, American, Economy
Quote paper
Veronika Minkova (Author), 2007, Ecuador: Model of successful integration of indigenous people, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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