Maloney, William Francis

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 April 4, 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 199 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
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    Engineers, Innovative Capacity and Development in the Americas
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-03) Maloney, William F. ; Valencia Caicedo, Felipe
    Using 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.
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    Is Automation Labor-Displacing in the Developing Countries, Too? Robots, Polarization, and Jobs
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-07-25) Maloney, William F. ; Molina, Carlos
    This 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.
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    Productivity Revisited: Shifting Paradigms in Analysis and Policy
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-10-25) Cusolito, Ana Paula ; Maloney, William F.
    The stagnation of productivity in the developing world, and indeed, across the globe, over the last two decades dictates a rethinking of productivity measurement, analysis, and policy. This volume presents a 'second wave' of thinking in three key areas of productivity analysis and its implications for productivity policies. It calls into question the measurement and relevance of distortions as the primary barrier to productivity growth; urges a broader concept of firm performance that goes beyond efficiency to quality upgrading and demand expansion; and explores what it takes to generate an experimental and innovative society where entrepreneurs have the personal characteristics to identify new technologies and manage risk within an entrepreneurial ecosystem that facilitates them doing so. It also reviews arguments surrounding industrial policies. The authors argue for an integrated approach to productivity analysis that incorporates both the need to reduce economic distortions and generate the human capital capable of identifying the opportunities offered to follower countries and upgrade firm capabilities. Finally, it offers guidance on prioritizing policies when there is uncertainty around diagnostics and limited government capability.
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    The Innovation Paradox: Developing-Country Capabilities and the Unrealized Promise of Technological Catch-Up
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2017-10-03) Cirera, Xavier ; Maloney, William F.
    Since Schumpeter, economists have argued that vast productivity gains can be achieved by investing in innovation and technological catch-up. Yet, as this volume documents, developing country firms and governments invest little to realize this potential, which dwarfs international aid flows. Using new data and original analytics, the authors uncover the key to this innovation paradox in the lack of complementary physical and human capital factors, particularly firm managerial capabilities, that are needed to reap the returns to innovation investments. Hence, countries need to rebalance policy away from R&D-centered initiatives – which are likely to fail in the absence of sophisticated private sector partners – toward building firm capabilities, and embrace an expanded concept of the National Innovation System that incorporates a broader range of market and systemic failures. The authors offer guidance on how to navigate the resulting innovation policy dilemma: as the need to redress these additional failures increases with distance from the frontier, government capabilities to formulate and implement the policy mix become weaker. This book is the first volume of the World Bank Productivity Project, which seeks to bring frontier thinking on the measurement and determinants of productivity to global policy makers.
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    Are Automation and Trade Polarizing Developing Country Labor Markets, Too?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-12) Maloney, William F. ; Molina, Carlos
    The automation and out-sourcing of routine, codifiable tasks are seen as driving polarization in labor markets in high-income countries. This paper first offers several explanations for why developing countries might show differing dynamics, at least for the present. Census data then confirms this, showing on average no evidence of polarization in developing countries. However, incipient polarization in a few countries as well as major drives to automate in some large, labor intensive producers suggests this may not remain the case. This raises concerns first about the impact on equity within those countries, but second the possibility that the traditional flying geese pattern" -- whereby low skilled jobs are progressively off-shored to poorer and poorer countries -- may be short circuited.