Maloney, William

Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
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Innovation, Labor Economics, Trade, Productivity, Private Sector Development, Financial Sector, Spatial economics
Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
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Last updated October 3, 2023
William F. Maloney is Chief Economist for the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Mr. Maloney, a U.S. national, joined the Bank in 1998 as Senior Economist for the Latin America and Caribbean Region. He held various positions including Lead Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America, Lead Economist in the Development Economics Research Group, Chief Economist for Trade and Competitiveness and Global Lead on Innovation and Productivity. He was most recently Chief Economist for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) Vice Presidency. From 2011 to 2014 he was Visiting Professor at the University of the Andes and worked closely with the Colombian government on innovation and firm upgrading issues. Mr. Maloney received his PhD in Economics from the University of California Berkeley (1990), his BA from Harvard University (1981), and studied at the University of the Andes in Bogota, Colombia (1982-83). His research activities and publications have focused on issues related to international trade and finance, developing country labor markets, and innovation and growth, including several flagship publications about Latin America and the Caribbean.He has published in academic journals on issues related to international trade and finance, developing country labor markets, and innovation and growth as well as several flagship publications of the Latin American division of the Bank, including Informality: Exit and Exclusion;  Natural Resources: Neither Curse nor Destiny and Lessons from NAFTA, Does What you Export Matter: In Search of Empirical Guidance for Industrial Policy. Most recently, he published The innovation paradox: Developing Country Capabilities the Unrealized Potential of Technological Catch-Up and Harvesting Prosperity: Technology and Productivity Growth in Agriculture as part of the World Bank Productivity Project.  
Citations 182 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
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    Labor Demand and Trade Reform in Latin America
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-11) Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Maloney, William F.
    There are concerns that trade reform and globalization will increase the uncertainty that the average worker, especially the relatively unskilled worker, faces. The increased competitiveness of product markets and greater access to foreign inputs, the argument goes, will lead to more elastic demand for workers. This may have adverse consequences for both labor market volatility and wage dispersion. The authors argue that while the case that trade liberalization should increase own-wage elasticities may be broadly compelling for competitive import-competing industries, it is less so for imperfectly competitive, nontradable, or export industries. They test the hypothesis using establishment-level panel data from three countries with periods of liberalization. The data provide only mixed support for the idea that trade liberalization has an impact on own-wage elasticities. No consistent patterns emerge. If globalization is making the lives of workers more insecure, it is probably working through some other mechanism.
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    Evaluating Emergency Programs
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-12) Maloney, William F.
    Emergency programs are designed to soften the impact of economic crises-income shocks experienced by an entire community or country-on consumption and human capital accumulation. Of particular concern are poor people: as a result of inadequate savings or inadequate access to credit or insurance markets, the poor are unable to draw on resources from better times to offset a loss in income today. Further, the systemic nature of the shocks means that risk cannot be effectively pooled through local informal insurance mechanisms. Emergency interventions have included social funds, workfare programs, training programs, conditional transfers (linked to health center visits or children's school attendance, for example), and traditional direct, unconditional transfers in kind (such as communal tables or targeted food handouts). The author highlights some conceptual problems in choosing among these options and evaluating one program of a certain type relative to another. It argues that most such interventions can be thought of as containing both a transfer and an investment component and that their evaluation as emergency programs needs to more explicitly incorporate the intertemporal nature of their design. More specifically, the mandated investments in physical or human capital will benefit the poor, but only in the future-after the crisis-and their implementation diverts resources from alleviating present hardship. This needs to be reflected in the discount factor used to evaluate these investments. Maloney argues that the way emergency programs are financed, particularly the way the burden is shared between central and municipal governments, also has important implications for the criteria for evaluation. The analysis suggests that most conventional means of evaluating projects-net present value at market discount rates, labor intensity, cost per job created-may not be relevant or are at least ambiguous in the context of emergency programs. As a result, policymakers are left with few "hard" indicators with which to evaluate such programs. Maloney argues for an approach in which the policymaker weighs the appropriateness of deviations from the theoretically "ideal" benchmark program, which delivers a "smart" transfer costlessly to the target beneficiary, and discusses the arguments for or against these deviations. The modest goal of the proposed approach is to clarify the key issues and provide more solid grounding for the necessarily subjective judgment calls that policymakers will inevitably have to make.
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    How Comparable are Labor Demand Elasticities across Countries?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-08) Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Maloney, William F.
    The authors present the first comparable dynamic panel estimates of labor demand elasticity, using data from Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. They examine the benefits, and limits of the Arellano, and Bond GMM in differences estimator, and the Blundell, and Bond GMM system estimator. They also explore the limitations of such measures for diagnosing flexibility in the labor market. Even accounting for the large variance induced by different estimation techniques, one probably cannot say much about the flexibility of different labor markets based on comparisons of the estimated elasticity of demand. Colombia, for example, which has severe restrictions on firing workers, has much higher long-run wage elasticity than Chile, which has no such restrictions. Three factors make such comparisons difficult: 1) Elasticity differ greatly across industries, so the composition of industry in each country probably affects the aggregate elasticity. Estimates are extremely dependent on the estimation approach, and specification. 2) Even for specific industries, the elasticity of labor demand differs greatly across countries. And the authors find no common pattern of country rankings across industries, which suggests that those differences cannot be attributed solely to systematic characteristics of the countries' labor markets. 3) Estimates for Chile over fifteen years, suggest substantial, and significant variations in elasticity over time. So comparisons across countries depend not only on the industries involved, but also on the sample periods of time used. Estimates change greatly, if not secularly, with sample period.
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    Chilean Growth through East Asian Eyes
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008) Kharas, Homi ; Leipziger, Danny ; Maloney, William ; Thillainathan, R. ; Hesse, Heiko
    Chile could well have space to increase its growth potential by 2 percentage points of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year. To do this, it would need to pay more attention to new sources of growth in natural resources, manufacturing, and services. In an increasingly globalized world, first-mover advantages have become more numerous and larger. Chile risks losing out, as a few recent high-profile cases suggest. Chile's total factor productivity growth can be raised by driving within-firm technological change closer to the global best-practice frontier more rapidly, especially in manufacturing. This would encourage the diversification of exports and boost Chile's supply response to global demand changes. Chile confronts obstacles in its processes of innovation, human capital accumulation, and investment. To overcome them, deep institutional changes are needed to develop a national innovation system, stronger and more equitable educational achievement, more flexible labor markets, and focused public investments that crowd in private business. Such an inclusive growth strategy is likely to yield better social outcomes than a strategy that attempts to confront social inequities head-on through more equitable access to public services without paying adequate attention to the demand for labor and generation of income. Chile could also try a new policy towards innovation, but it would need to be bolder in terms of the institutional design to maximize the chances of success.