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Publication(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2020-06) Levy, Santiago ; López-Calva, Luis F.Over the last two decades, Mexico has experienced macroeconomic stability, an open trade regime, and substantial progress in education. Yet average workers’ earnings have stagnated, and earnings of those with higher schooling have fallen, compressing the earnings distribution and lowering the returns to education. This paper argues that distortions that misallocate resources toward less-productive firms explain these phenomena, because these firms are less intensive in well-educated workers compared with more-productive ones. It shows that while the relative supply of workers with more years of schooling has increased, misallocation of resources toward less-productive firms has persisted. These two trends have generated a widening mismatch between the supply of, and the demand for, educated workers. The paper breaks down worker earnings into observable and unobservable firm and individual worker characteristics, and computes a counterfactual earnings distribution in the absence of misallocation. The main finding is that in the absence of misallocation average earnings would be higher, and that earnings differentials across schooling levels would widen, raising the returns to education. A no-misallocation path is constructed for the wage premium. Depending on parameter values, this path is found to be rising or constant, in contrast to the observed downward path. The paper concludes arguing that the persistence of misallocation impedes Mexico from taking full advantage of its investments in the education of its workforce.
Publication(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2019-06) Krebs, Tom ; Krishna, Pravin ; Maloney, William F.This paper presents a framework for the quantitative analysis of individual income dynamics, mobility, and welfare, with ex ante identical individuals facing a stochastic income process and market incompleteness, implying that they are unable to insure against persistent shocks to income. We show how the parameters of the income process can be estimated using repeated cross-sectional data with a short panel dimension and use a simple consumption-saving model for quantitative analysis of mobility and welfare. Our empirical application, using data on individual incomes from Mexico, provides striking results. Most of the measured income mobility is driven by measurement error or transitory income shocks and is therefore (almost) welfare neutral. Only a small part of measured income mobility is due to either welfare-reducing income risk or welfare-enhancing catching-up of low-income individuals with high-income individuals, both of which, nevertheless, have economically significant effects on social welfare. Strikingly, roughly half of the mobility that cannot be attributed to measurement error or transitory income shocks is driven by welfare-reducing persistent income shocks. Decomposing mobility into its fundamental components is thus crucial from the standpoint of welfare evaluation.
Publication(Elsevier, 2016-05) Enamorado, Ted ; López-Calva, Luis F. ; Rodríguez-Castelán, Carlos ; Winkler, HernánThe goal of this paper is to examine the effect of inequality on crime rates in a unique context, Mexico's drug war. The analysis exploits an original dataset containing inequality and crime statistics on more than 2000 Mexican municipalities over a 20-year period. To uncover the causal effect of inequality on crime, we use an instrumental variable for the Gini coefficient that combines the initial income distribution at the municipality level with national trends. Our estimates indicate that a one-point increment in the Gini coefficient between 2007 and 2010 translates into an increase of more that 36% in the number of drug-related homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. The fact that the effect found during the drug war is substantially greater is likely caused by the rise in rents to be extracted through crime and an expansion in the employment opportunities in the illegal sector through the proliferation of drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), accompanied by a decline in legal job opportunities and a reduction in the probability of being caught given the resource constraints faced by the law enforcement system. Combined, the latter factors made the expected benefits of criminal activity shift in a socially undesirable direction after 2007.