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economics and place

Economic and place dynamics are deeply intertwined. The political, historical, sociocultural and biophysical characteristics of a location are determinants for economic growth. These components should be analyzed together to understand the evolution and development of an economy and place on different scales.


My work aims to understand the entanglements, how the various elements interact with each other and steer the development of a place. Currently, I study crude oil-exporting developing-economies, how their economic structures have evolved over time and how they become heavily dependent on natural resources extraction. My main goal is to find ways to help these countries to diversify towards other productive activities.  

complex systems and  networks

"We are being controlled by the random outcome of a complex system"
Jacob Samiel, THE NEW YORKER 

The economy is a dynamic system, which is constantly evolving, learning and out of equilibrium. It follows non-linear behaviors and it is path- and place-dependent. Its components can not be studied separately because economic actors interact with and depend on each other to create aggregate behaviors.

My work focuses on the study of firms and their productions chains, network configurations and how their spatial locations influence the creation of new economic activities. My goal is to predict where new firms might emerge and assess where investments could be allocated to foster future economic diversification.

data science

Data on human dynamics can be turn into information, and information into economic insights.


In my research, I study and handle hundreds-of-millions of data points on individual firm transactions to understand how production networks work and evolve, as well as the patterns of economic specialization and diversification in regions. Further, with the use of the state-of-the-art data analysis tools, I attempt to predict the evolution of economic spaces and where new productive activities (entrepreneurship) may emerge.  

CHINA - Productive Structure Evolution

USA - Productive Structure Evolution


working papers


Fraiberger, Samuel P., Pablo Astudillo, Lorenzo Candeago, Alex Chunet, Nicholas KW Jones, Maham Faisal Khan, Bruno Lepri et al. (2021). Uncovering socioeconomic gaps in mobility reduction during the COVID-19 pandemic using location data. [WBG Working Paper]

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Astudillo, P. (2020). Evolution of the Ecuadorian economy: a complexity approach. University of Oxford, MIT. [Working Paper

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Astudillo, P. (2020). Path dependence, reinforcement mechanisms and economic complexity in commodity exporting countries. University of Oxford. [Working Paper] 

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Astudillo, P., Station, S. (2017). Sumak Kawsay of Buen Vivir, an alternative epistemology for understanding development. The University of Edinburgh. [Working Paper] 

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Astudillo, P. (2013). The Sumak Kawsay: a new environment and development paradigm. The University of Edinburgh. [Dissertation]    DOWNLOAD

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Astudillo, P. (2011). “Open Source” structures and citizen participation for national and international climate policy. Instituto Latinoamericano de Ciencias. Lima. [Dissertation] [Spanish]     DOWNLOAD

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Astudillo, P. (2009). Assessing the Ecological Footprint, a methodological proposal for Bayer A.G. in Ecuador. Universidad Central del Ecuador. [Dissertation] [Spanish]    DOWNLOAD

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