Ecuador is one of the countries with the most
unequal distribution of income in the world, although
differences have diminished in the 2000s. The proportion
of poor people according to national standards has
decreased from 64 percent at the turn of the millennium
to 23 percent in 2018.
Not least, the redistribution policy carried out
during Rafael Correa's first year as president, from
2007, contributed to a narrowing of gaps. Social
investments were made and at the same time, oil revenues
were high, giving the state revenues. The collapse of
the oil price from 2014 has helped the proportion of
poor people to start to increase again.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Ecuador, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
The health sector has major shortcomings. In rural
areas, healthcare is poorly developed, and in urban
slums, there is a lack of clean water and hygienic
conditions are poor. This, along with malnutrition, are
common causes of illness, with almost every fourth child
under five suffering from malnutrition. The upper and
middle classes usually turn to private healthcare. A
growing problem is that more and more Ecuadorians are
suffering from Western welfare diseases such as obesity,
diabetes and high blood pressure.
The then-new president Rafael Correa declared in
March 2007 "state of emergency" in the health sector. He
then channeled more money into health care. Thanks to
the country's oil income, he was also able to introduce
a state monthly contribution to the very poorest and
single mothers. Oil revenues also allowed some expansion
of a social insurance system for those who have or have
been employed. The system includes, among other things,
old-age and sickness pensions, child allowances and free
health care for children and the elderly. However, most
Ecuadorians are still outside these safety nets.
Abortion is only allowed in serious threats to the
life and health of a woman or, in some cases, after a
rape. Nonetheless, abortions are common, but few of them
are legal. Women who undergo abortions run the risk of
being sentenced to between six months and two years in
In Ecuador, human smuggling is a major problem. The
victims are both women and children who are sold to
prostitution or forced labor. Crime has increased as the
Colombian drug mafia branches into the country.
At the top of the social hierarchy is the country's
small white Spanish upper class, consisting mainly of
large property owners in the mountain areas, plantation
owners on the coast as well as finance and industrial
The middle class is relatively small but growing. It
is made up of, among others, businessmen, middle-class
military, bureaucrats, middle managers in companies, as
well as highly educated people such as doctors, teachers
and lawyers. The middle class lives mainly in the cities
and is usually a misery (see Population and languages).
At the bottom of the social ladder are the indigenous
peoples and Africans. They are usually small farmers or
landless farmers in the countryside, while they can be
factory workers, street vendors or urban craftsmen.
The family is the most important social unit in
society, in all social groups. A family usually consists
of husband, wife, unmarried children and sometimes older
relatives, who should be treated kindly and with
respect. Old parents usually live with the youngest son
and his wife. It is common for the youngest son with his
wife to stay in the parents' home and eventually take
over the household, while the parents remain.
More than one in five girls are married before she
turns 18, but that may change. Until 2015, girls could
legally marry at the age of 12 and boys at 14. Now the
age limit is 18 for both sexes.
The tradition of godparents (compadrazgo) is
strong. The godparents are appointed by the child's
parents prior to the baptism and then have financial
obligations to the godchild, among other things. They
are also expected to provide advice and support to the
child throughout life.
The woman's situation
Ecuador is still male-dominated. Even though politics
and legislation attach increasing importance to gender
equality, the outlook in society is still often
conservative. In general, it is the woman who takes
responsibility for children and households, while the
man works for employment. But at least in the cities,
this distribution of roles is slowly loosening up, as
both parents increasingly work professionally and share
in the different chores of the home. However, it is
still rare for women in positions of power in public
life, although the number of women in higher positions
in the state administration and academia is increasing.
In working life, women have on average significantly
lower wages than men. Seven out of ten women have no
income of their own.
Women have legal rights to their children and their
A serious problem is the widespread trafficking of
human beings, which affects women severely. The victims
risk being sold to prostitution and other forced labor.
There is a special ombudsman for women as well as a
state council for women.
Statistics show that violence against women is
widespread and has not decreased in recent years.
According to Conamu, more than four in ten Ecuadorian
women have been subjected to violence. Violence against
women is especially common among low-skilled groups.
The lives of children and young people
All Ecuadorian children should attend school from the
age of 5 to 15. But because school uniforms are
compulsory and expensive, poor families can rarely
afford to send all their children to school at the same
time without the siblings being allowed to turn around -
those who do not attend school can help with the
In the mountain areas, the students have two months
of summer leave, while the children on the coast are
free during the rainy season between January and March.
In leisure time, soccer and volleyball are the most
popular among boys, while girls like to play tennis,
basketball and volleyball. A common leisure pleasure is
to camp in forests and land. Some go rock climbing in
There is a special law for minors aimed at protecting
the rights of children and young people. Political
awareness of children's rights has increased.
But there is still a high proportion of child
laborers in Ecuador, not least on the coastal
plantations. The widespread human trafficking also
affects the children who fall victim to the smugglers.
The children are sold both for forced labor and for
sexual exploitation. It also happens that children are
subjected to domestic violence and sexual abuse.
For young people it is common to hang out with both
girls and guys. But a teenage girl must ask her parents
for permission before going out alone with a guy. The
nightlife is rather sparse in smaller cities and in the
countryside, while there are plenty of bars and clubs in
Quito and Guayaquil.
When the girls reach the age of 15, a so-called
quinceañera (a celebration to celebrate the girl's
becoming an adult) is held. A quinceañera begins with a
Catholic service and ends with a private party. The
object of the party wears a pink dress. An important
step is when the father gives the girl her first
high-heeled shoes and dances a drum with her. After the
quinceanera, it is common for girls to start dating.
University studies are unusual (about five percent of
children in cities and one percent in rural areas), even
though the country has around 400 higher education
Situation of sexual minorities
The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds
of sexual orientation and gender identity. Same-sex
marriage was approved by a decision in the
Constitutional Court in 2019. However, it does happen
that the rights of LGBT people are violated according to
human rights organizations in the country. Harassment
and abuse occur, even from police officers who are
rarely punished for the crimes.
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
12 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected
0.4 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
92.6 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
88.0 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
8.5 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 505 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
38 percent (2018)