The period from the 1970s to the late 1980s was one of profound economic, political, social, and territorial transformations in Latin America and the Caribbean. The external debt crisis and the implementation of structural adjustment policies by different countries in the region as promoted within the Washington Consensus prompted the adoption of a new style of development in the region. This period marked a turning point worldwide in economic thinking on the role of the market as the main mechanism for promoting development, and in Latin America and the Caribbean this change led to an increased deregulation and liberalization of economies, a deepening of an insertion in external markets through the promotion of exports, and a reorganization of public finances, with the subsequent reduction of the State and its diminished intervention in the economy.
From the 1970s onwards, the State and planning ceased to carry the weight of the previous period due to shifts in the development model adopted by most of the countries in the region. During this period, public policies ceased to consider long-term planning because the macroeconomic crisis, hyperinflation and stagnant growth dominated the attention of public programs. In this regard, the focus of much of the work of ILPES and ECLAC was on how to manage the crisis.
During this period, ILPES’ research focused on public sector economic programming, social policies, investment and project programming, and regional planning and policies. Regarding the latter, inequality as a problem resulting from new development patterns began to guide thinking on territorial development. Since the mid-1960s, regional development had been part of ILPES' school of thought. During this period, with respect to the determinants of territorial development and the alternatives for reducing existing inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean, the concept of endogenous development emerged, and the limits imposed by capitalist accumulation to achieve a more balanced socio-spatial development were debated.