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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
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Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
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Last updated: April 10, 2024
Biography
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 202 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
  • Publication
    Labor Market Dynamics in Developing Countries : Comparative Analysis using Continuous Time Markov Processes
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-04) Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William
    The authors study the dynamics of three developing country labor markets using recent advances in the estimation of continuous time Markov processes. They first examine the flows of workers among five states: three types of paid labor, unemployment, and out of the labor force. The authors find a high degree of commonality in patterns of worker flows among the three countries and attempt to compare the flexibility of the markets by examining an index of overall mobility. Second, they seek to establish whether the issues of advanced country labor markets apply to developing country markets or whether the latter constitute a different phylum. Paralleling the mainstream literature on the role of being out of the labor force as discouraged unemployment, the authors then identify some common stylized facts about the role of the informal self-employed and salaried sectors and to what degree they serve as a holding pattern versus a desirable alternative to formal sector work. In the process, the authors identify very strong differences in mobility patterns between men and women and attempt to shed some light on whether these differences arise from discrimination or perhaps instead the constraints imposed by household responsibilities. Finally, they study labor market adjustment across the business cycle in Mexico and identify patterns of job creation and destruction among the three paid sectors and confirm the mainstream view of the role of out of the labor force as a procyclical phenomenon.
  • Publication
    Spatial Dimensions of Trade Liberalization and Economic Convergence: Mexico 1985-2002
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-10) Aroca, Patricio; Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William F.
    This paper studies the spatial dimension of growth in Mexico over the past three decades. The literature on regional economic growth shows a decrease in regional dispersion from 1970 to 1985, and a sharp increase afterward coinciding with the trade liberalization of the Mexican economy. Using spatial econometric, tools the authors analyze how the process of convergence/divergence has mapped spatially and whether it makes sense to talk about spatial regions in Mexico. Although the rich North-poor South dichotomy has dominated this phenomenon, interesting patterns emerge. Namely the distribution of growth after Mexico's post-liberalization seems to be much less associated with distance to the United States than the authors had initially expected.
  • Publication
    Comparative Analysis of Labor Market Dynamics Using Markov Processes : An Application to Informality
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-12) Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William
    This paper discusses a set of statistics for examining and comparing labor market dynamics based on the estimation of continuous time Markov transition processes. It then uses these to establish stylized facts about dynamic patterns of movement using panel data from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. The estimates suggest broad commonalities among the three countries, and establish numerous common patterns of worker mobility among sectors of work and inactivity. As such, we offer some of the first comparative work on labor dynamics. The paper then particularly focuses on the role of the informal sector, both for its intrinsic interest, and as a case study illustrating the strengths and limits of the tools. The results suggest that a substantial part of the informal sector, particularly the self-employed, corresponds to voluntary entry although informal salaried work may correspond more closely to the standard queuing view, especially for younger workers.
  • Publication
    The Determinants of Rising Informality in Brazil : Evidence from Gross Worker Flows
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-10) Bosch, Mariano; Goni, Edwin; Maloney, William
    This paper studies gross worker flows to explain the rising informality in Brazilian metropolitan labor markets from 1983 to 2002. This period covers two economic cycles, several stabilization plans, a far-reaching trade liberalization, and changes in labor legislation through the Constitutional reform of 1988. First, focusing on cyclical patterns, the authors confirm that for Brazil, the patterns of worker transitions between formality and informality correspond primarily to the job-to-job dynamics observed in the United States, and not to the traditional idea of the informal queuing for jobs in a segmented market. However, the analysis also confirms distinct cyclical patterns of job finding and separation rates that lead to the informal sector absorbing more labor during downturns. Second, focusing on secular movements in gross flows and the volatility of flows, the paper finds the rise in informality to be driven primarily by a reduction in job finding rates in the formal sector. A small fraction of this is driven by trade liberalization, and the remainder seems driven by rising labor costs and reduced flexibility arising from Constitutional reform.
  • Publication
    Gross Worker Flows in the Presence of Informal Labor Markets : The Mexican Experience 1987-2002
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-04) Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William
    This paper applies recent advances in the study of labor market dynamics to a representative developing country with a large informal or unregulated sector, Mexico. It studies quarterly gross flows of workers over a 15-year period that includes two recoveries and recessions, including the celebrated 1995 Tequila crisis. It finds, first, that the formal or modern salaried sector shows the same procyclical job finding rate and mildly countercyclical separation behavior identified in the recent U.S. literature, and relative wage rigidity, both consistent with Shimer (2005a) and Hall (2005). The unregulated informal sector, however, shows reasonable acyclicality in the job finding rate coupled with sharp countercyclical movements in the job separation rate, consistent with standard small firm dynamics and Davis and Haltiwanger (1992 and 1999). This interaction of regulatory coverage and firm sizes, and patterns of gross worker flows thus sheds suggestive light on the roots of countercyclical job finding behavior in the U.S. literature. Second, the patterns of worker transitions between formality and informality correspond to the job-to-job dynamics observed in the United States and not to the traditional idea of informality constituting the inferior sector of a segmented market. That said, the countercyclical job finding in the formal sector combined with the acyclical job finding in informality does lead to the latter absorbing relatively more labor during downturns. Third, aggregate employment dynamics vary across the Tequila crisis and the later 2001 slowdown, suggesting that not only the composition of employment, but the nature of the shocks is important to understanding how the labor market adjusts.
  • Publication
    The Distribution of Income Shocks during Crises : An Application of Quantile Analysis to Mexico, 1992-95
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2004-05) Maloney, William F.; Cunningham, Wendy V.
    Moving beyond the simple comparisons of averages typical of most analyses of household income shocks, this article employs quantile analysis to generate a complete distribution of such shocks by type of household during the 1995 crisis in Mexico. It compares the distributions across normal and crisis periods to see whether observed differences were due to the crisis or are intrinsic to the household types. Alternatively, it asks whether the distribution of shocks during normal periods was a reasonable predictor of vulnerability to income shocks during crises. It finds large differences in the distribution of shocks by household types both before and during the crisis but little change in their relative positions during the crisis. The impact appears to have been spread fairly evenly. Households headed by people with less education (poor), single mothers, or people working in the informal sector do not appear to experience disproportionate income drops either in normal times or during crises.
  • Publication
    Spatial Dimensions of Trade Liberalization and Economic Convergence : Mexico 1985-2002
    (Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2005-09-01) Aroca, Patricio; Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William F.
    This article employs established techniques from the spatial economics literature to identify regional patterns of income and growth in Mexico and to examine how they have changed over the period spanned by trade liberalization and how they may be linked to the income divergence observed following liberalization. The article first shows that divergence has emerged in the form of several income clusters that only partially correspond to traditional geographic regions. Next, when regions are defined by spatial correlation in incomes, a south clearly exists, but the north seems to be restricted to the states directly on the United States (U.S.) border and there is no center region. Overall, the principal dynamic of both the increased spatial dependency and the increased divergence lies not on the border but in the sustained underperformance of the southern states, starting before the North American free-trade agreement, and to a lesser extent in the superior performance of an emerging convergence club in the north-center of the country.
  • Publication
    Cyclical Movements in Unemployment and Informality in Developing Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-06) Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William
    This paper analyzes the cyclical properties of worker flows in Brazil and Mexico, two important developing countries with large unregulated or informal sectors. It generates three stylized facts that are critical to the accurate modeling of the sector and which suggest the need to rethink the approaches to date. First, the unemployment rate is countercyclical essentially because job separations of informal workers increase dramatically in recessions. Second, the share of formal employment is countercyclical because of the difficulty of finding formal jobs from inactivity, unemployment and other informal jobs during recessions rather than because of increased separation from formal jobs. Third, flows from formality into informality are not countercyclical, but, if anything, pro-cyclical. Together, these challenge the conventional wisdom that has guided the modeling the sector that informal workers are primarily those rationed out of the formal labor market. They also offer a new synthesis of the mechanics of the cyclical adjustment process. Finally, the paper offers estimates of the moments of worker flows series that are needed for calibration.
  • Publication
    Comparative Analysis of Labor Market Dynamics Using Markov Processes : An Application to Informality
    (2010) Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William F.
    This paper discusses a set of statistics for examining labor market dynamics in developing countries and offers a simple search model that informs their interpretation. It then employs panel data from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to generate a set of preliminary stylized facts about patterns of sectoral transition and duration. Finally, it nests two competing views of the informal sector within the model and uses variation in the statistics across age and the business cycle to help discriminate between them. The results suggest that a substantial part of the informal sector, particularly the self-employed, corresponds to voluntary entry, although informal salaried work may correspond more closely to the standard queuing view, especially for younger workers.
  • Publication
    Pending Issues in Protection, Productivity Growth, and Poverty Reduction
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-12) Arias, Omar; Blom, Andreas; Bosch, Mariano; Cunningham, Wendy; Fiszbein, Ariel; Lopez Acevedo, Gladys; Maloney, William; Saavedra, Jaime; Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina; Santamaria, Mauricio; Siga, Lucas
    This paper selectively synthesizes much of the research on Latin American and Caribbean labor markets in recent years. Several themes emerge that are particularly relevant to ongoing policy dialogues. First, labor legislation matters, but markets may be less segmented than previously thought. The impetus to voluntary informality, which appears to be a substantial fraction of the sector, implies that the design of social safety nets and labor legislation needs to take a more integrated view of the labor market, taking into account the cost-benefit analysis workers and firms make about whether to interact with formal institutions. Second, the impact of labor market institutions on productivity growth has probably been underemphasized. Draconian firing restrictions increase litigation and uncertainty surrounding worker separations, reduce turnover and job creation, and poorly protect workers. But theory and anecdotal evidence also suggest that they, and other related state or union induced rigidities, may have an even greater disincentive effect on technological adoption, which accounts for half of economic growth. Finally, institutions can affect poverty and equity, although the effects seem generally small and channels are not always clear. Overall, the present constellation of labor regulations serves workers and firms poorly and both could benefit from substantial reform.