Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
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Fields of Specialization
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.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 19
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-06) Iacovone, Leonardo ; Maloney, William ; McKenzie, DavidThe latest note tests two different approaches to improving management, and finds a novel group-based approach to be more cost-effective than the standard approach of providing consulting to individual firms.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-07-25) Maloney, William F. ; Molina, CarlosThis paper uses global census data to examine whether the labor market polarization and labor-displacing automation documented in the advanced countries appears in the developing world. While confirming both effects for the former, it finds little evidence for either in developing countries. In particular,the critical category corresponding to manufacturing worker, operators and assemblers has increased in absolute terms and as a share of the labor force. The paper then uses data on robot usage to explore its impact on the relative employment evolution in each sample controlling for Chinese import penetration. Trade competition appears largely irrelevant in both cases. Robots, however, are displacing in the advanced countries, explaining 25-50 percent of the job loss in manufacturing. However, they likely crowd in operators and assemblers in developing countries. This is likely due to off-shoring that combines robots with new operators in FDI destination countries which may, for the present, offset any displacement effect. Some evidence is found, however, for incipient polarization in Mexico and Brazil.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-10) Krebs, Tom ; Krishna, Pravin ; Maloney, William F.This paper develops a framework for the quantitative analysis of individual income dynamics, mobility and welfare. Individual income is assumed to follow a stochastic process with two (unobserved) components, component representing measurement error or transitory income shocks and an Autoregressive (AR(1)) component representing persistent changes in income. The analysis uses a tractable consumption-saving model with labor income risk and incomplete markets to relate income dynamics to consumption and welfare, and derive analytical expressions for income mobility and welfare as a function of the various parameters of the underlying income process. The empirical application of the framework using data on individual incomes from Mexico provides striking results. Much of measured income mobility is driven by measurement error or transitory income shocks and therefore (almost) welfare-neutral. A smaller 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 have economically significant effects on social welfare. Decomposing mobility into its fundamental components is thus seen to be crucial from the standpoint of welfare evaluation.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-10) Falco, Paolo ; Maloney, William F. ; Rijkers, Bob ; Sarrias, MauricioUsing an extraordinarily rich panel dataset from Ghana, this paper explores the nature of self-employment and informality in developing countries through the analysis of self-reported happiness with work and life. Subjective job satisfaction measures allow assessment of the relative desirability of different jobs in ways that, conditional wage comparisons cannot. By exploiting recent advances in mixed (random parameter) ordered probit models, the distribution of subjective well-being across sectors of employment is quantified. There is little evidence for the overall inferiority of the small firm informal sector: there is not a robust average satisfaction premium for formal work vs. self-employment or informal salaried work, and owners of informal firms that employ others are on average significantly happier than workers in the formal private sector. Moreover, the estimated distribution of parameters predicting satisfaction reveal substantial heterogeneity in subjective well-being within sectors that conventional fixed parameter models, such as standard ordered probit models, cannot detect: Whatever the average satisfaction premium in a sector, all job categories contain both relatively happy and disgruntled workers. Specifically, roughly 67, 50, 40 and 59 percent prefer being a small-firm employer, sole proprietor, informal salaried, civic worker respectively, than formal work. Hence, there is a high degree of overlap in the distribution of satisfaction across sectors. The results are robust to the inclusion of fixed effects and alternate measures of satisfaction. Job characteristics, self-perceived autonomy and experimentally elicited measures of attitudes toward risk do not appear to explain these distributional patterns.
Publication( 2011-06-01) Krishna, Pravin ; Maloney, William F.Country export quality (measured by unit values) is correlated with income level suggesting that studying quality dynamics potentially offers insights into the development process. This paper uses highly disaggregated trade data to explore the export quality (unit value) dynamics of goods exported to the United States over the 1990-2000 period. In addition to finding considerable heterogeneity in the relative quality of exports across countries and across goods within countries, the authors find that the rate of quality growth varies substantially across countries, as well. Specifically, the fastest growth is seen in exports from the richer (OECD) countries, implying an evolving divergence in product quality across regions. This divergence obtains despite evidence of conditional convergence in quality over time- goods with lower initial relative quality levels experience faster growth in quality. The data suggest that part of this divergence is driven by the product mix itself -- OECD exported products experience intrinsically higher growth rates. This is consistent with the argument of Hausmann, Hwang and Rodrik (2007) that what countries export does matter for growth. However, it is partly driven by a higher growth rate of quality in the richer countries independent of convergence effects, suggesting that other country-specific factors impeding overall convergence are at work. Finally, there is very limited technological "leap-frogging" by countries across product lines as the relative quality of new exports, on average, is roughly the same as incumbent exports, both in richer countries and elsewhere.
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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.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication( 2011) Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Maloney, William F. ; Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V.This paper exploits an extensive Brazilian micro-enterprise survey and the 1996 introduction of a business tax reduction and simplification scheme (SIMPLES) to examine three questions. First, do high tax rates and complex tax regulations really constitute a barrier to the formalization of micro-firms? Second, does formalization improve firm performance measured along several dimensions, including revenues, employment and capital stock? Third, what are the channels through which this occurs? We find that SIMPLES led to a significant increase in formality in several dimensions. Moreover, newly created firms that opt for operating formally show higher levels of revenue and profits, employ more workers and are more capital intensive (only for those firms that have employees). The channel through which this occurs is not access to credit or contracts with larger firms. Rather, it appears that the lower cost of contracting labor leads to adopting production techniques that involve a permanent location and a larger paid labor force.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-03) Maloney, William F. ; Valencia Caicedo, FelipeUsing newly collected national and sub-national data, and historical case studies, this paper argues that differences in innovative capacity, captured by the density of engineers at the dawn of the Second Industrial Revolution, are important to explaining present income differences, and, in particular, the poor performance of Latin America relative to North America. This remains the case after controlling for literacy, other higher order human capital, such as lawyers, as well as demand side elements that might be confounded with engineering. The analysis then finds that agglomeration, certain geographical fundamentals, and extractive institutions such as slavery affect innovative capacity. However, a large effect associated with being a Spanish colony remains suggesting important inherited factors.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-03) Goñi, Edwin ; Maloney, William F.Using a global panel on research and development (R&D) expenditures, this paper documents that on average poor countries do far less R&D than rich as a share of GDP. This is arguably counter intuitive since the gains from doing the R&D required for technological catch up are thought to be very high and Griffith et al (2004) have documented that in the OECD returns increase dramatically with distance from the frontier. Exploiting recent advances in instrumental variables in a varying coefficient context we find that the rates of return follow an inverted U: they rise with distance to the frontier and then fall thereafter, potentially turning negative for the poorest countries. The findings are consistent with the importance of factors complementary to R&D, such as education, the quality of scientific infrastructure and the overall functioning of the national innovation system, and the quality of the private sector, which become increasingly weak with distance from the frontier and the absence of which can offset the catch up effect. China's and India's explosive growth in R&D investment trajectories in spite of expected low returns may be justified by their importing the complementary factors in the form of multinational corporations who do most of the patentable research.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication( 2010) Krebs, Tom ; Krishna, Pravin ; Maloney, WilliamThis paper develops a framework to study empirically the relationship between trade policy and individual income risk and to evaluate the associated welfare consequences. The analysis proceeds in three steps. First, longitudinal data on workers are used to estimate time-varying individual income risk parameters in various manufacturing sectors. Second, the estimated income risk parameters and data on trade barriers are used to analyze the relationship between trade policy and income risk. Finally, a simple dynamic incomplete-market model is used to assess the corresponding welfare costs. In the implementation of this methodology using Mexican data, we find that trade policy changes have a significant short-run effect on income risk. Further, while the tariff level has an insignificant mean effect, it nevertheless changes the degree to which macroeconomic shocks affect income risk.