Maloney, William Francis
Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
Author Name Variants
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
Externally Hosted Work
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.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 18
Publication(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(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.
Publication(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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-12) Maloney, William F.Latin America missed opportunities for rapid resource-based growth that similarly endowed countries-Australia, Canada, Scandinavia-were able to take advantage of. Fundamental to this poor performance was deficient technological adoption driven by two factors. First, deficient national "learning" or "innovative" capacity, arising from low investment in human capital and scientific infrastructure, led to weak ability to innovate or even take advantage of technological advances abroad. Second, the period of inward-looking industrialization discouraged innovation and created a sector whose growth depended on artificial monopoly rents rather than the quasi-rents arising from technological adoption, and at the same time undermined resource-intensive sectors that had the potential for dynamic growth.
Publication(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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-04) Lederman, Daniel ; Maloney, William F.Lederman and Maloney examine the empirical relationships between trade structure and economic growth, particularly the influence of natural resource abundance, export concentration, and intra-industry trade. They test the robustness of these relationships across proxies, control variables, and estimation techniques. The authors find trade variables to be important determinants of growth, especially natural resource abundance and export concentration. In contrast with much of the recent literature, natural resource abundance appears to have a positive effect on growth, whereas export concentration hampers growth, even after controlling for physical and human capital accumulation, among other factors.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-11) Lederman, Daniel ; Maloney, William F.The debate over the curse of natural resources has haunted developing countries for decades if not centuries. A review of existing empirical evidence suggests that the curse remains elusive. The fragile negative effect of natural resources on economic growth might be due to international heterogeneity in the effects of natural resources on economic growth, to the use of weak indicators of natural resources that might be unrelated to relative natural-resource endowments, or to the inability of econometric analysis based on international data to capture historical processes. This paper defends an empirical proxy for relative abundance of natural resources, which is based on standard growth theory. In turn, various econometric estimations are hopelessly deployed in the search for the missing resource curse. Some evidence suggests that natural resources might have large positive effects whose true magnitude remains unknown due to unresolved econometric issues.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-07) Krebs, Tom ; Krishna, Pravin ; Maloney, WilliamUsing data from Mexico, the authors study empirically the link between trade policy and individual income risk and the extent to which this varies across workers of different human capital (education) levels. They use longitudinal income data on workers to estimate time-varying individual income risk parameters in different manufacturing sectors in Mexico between 1987 and 1998, a period in which the Mexican economy experienced substantial changes in trade policy. In a second step, they use the variations in trade policy across different sectors and over time to estimate the link between trade policy and income risk for workers of varying education levels. The authors' findings are as follows. The level of openness of an economy is not found to be related to income risk for workers of any type. Furthermore, changes in trade policy (that is, trade policy reforms) are not found to have any effect on the risk to income faced by workers with either low or high levels of human capital. But workers with intermediate levels of human capital are found to experience a statistically and economically significant increase in income risk immediately following liberalization of trade. The findings thus point to an interesting non-monotonicity in the interaction between human capital, income risk and trade policy changes.
The Persistence of (Subnational) Fortune : Geography, Agglomeration, and Institutions in the New World(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-09) Maloney, William F. ; Caicedo, Felipe ValenciaUsing subnational historical data, this paper establishes the within country persistence of economic activity in the New World over the last half millennium. The paper constructs a data set incorporating measures of pre-colonial population density, new measures of present regional per capita income and population, and a comprehensive set of locational fundamentals. These fundamentals are shown to have explanatory power: native populations throughout the hemisphere were found in more livable and productive places. It is then shown that high pre-colonial density areas tend to be dense today: population agglomerations persist. The data and historical evidence suggest this is due partly to locational fundamentals, but also to classic agglomeration effects: colonialists established settlements near existing native populations for reasons of labor, trade, knowledge and defense. Further, high density (historically prosperous) areas also tend to have higher incomes today, and largely due to agglomeration effects: fortune persists for the United States and most of Latin America. Finally extractive institutions, in this case, slavery, reduce persistence even if they do not overwhelm other forces in its favor.