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 30
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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-07) Maloney, William ; Rodríguez-Clare, AndrésThere is a common perception that low productivity or low growth is due to what can be called an "innovation shortfall," usually identified as a low rate of investment in research and development (R&D) when compared with some high innovation countries. The usual reaction to this perceived problem is to call for increases in R&D investment rates, usually specifying a target that can be as high as 3 percent of GDP. The problem with this analysis is that it fails to see that a low R&D investment rate may be appropriate given the economy's pattern of specialization, or may be just one manifestation of more general problems that impede accumulation of all kinds of capital. How can we know when a country suffers from an innovation shortfall above and beyond the ones that should be expected given the country's specialization and accumulation patterns? This is the question the authors tackle in this paper. First, they show a simple way to estimate the R&D gap that can be explained by a country's specialization pattern, illustrating it for the case of Chile. For this country they find that although its specialization in natural-resource-intensive sectors explains part of its R&D gap, a significant shortfall remains. Second, the authors show how a calibrated model can be used to determine the R&D gap that should be expected given a country's investment in physical and human capital. If the actual R&D gap is above this expected gap, then one can say that the country suffers from a true innovation shortfall.
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(Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004-11) Lederman, Daniel ; Maloney, William F. ; Servén, LuisAnalyzing the experience of Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), "Lessons from NAFTA" aims to provide guidance to Latin American and Caribbean countries considering free trade agreements with the United States. The authors conclude that the treaty raised external trade and foreign investment inflows and had a modest effect on Mexico's average income per person. It is likely that the treaty also helped achieve a modest reduction in poverty and an improvement in job quality.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-10) Bosch, Mariano ; Lederman, Daniel ; Maloney, William F.Using a new global data base on patents and innovation inputs, the authors examine the process of knowledge creation measured by the dynamic relationship between research and development and U.S. patents granted. They confirm at the country level the recurrent micro-level finding of a strong relationship between the two and estimate the OECD elasticity to be effectively equal to one. This conflicts with the frequent micro-level finding of strongly diminishing returns in knowledge generation and suggests the importance of knowledge spillover effects measurable only at the aggregate level. Developing countries, however, do show diminishing returns. The authors then explain the differences in spillovers between the OECD and developing countries by testing for the impact of measures of the functioning of the national innovation system-the set of institutions and agents that create and disseminate knowledge. Across the entire sample education, security of intellectual property rights, and in some specifications, the quality of research institutions and their interaction with the private sector, affect the transformation of research and development into patents.
Publication(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( 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.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2007) Perry, Guillermo E. ; Maloney, William F. ; Arias, Omar S. ; Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Mason, Andrew D. ; Saavedra-Chanduvi, JaimeInformality: exit and exclusion analyzes informality in Latin America, exploring root causes and reasons for and implications of its growth. The authors use two distinct but complementary lenses: informality driven by exclusion from state benefits or the circuits of the modern economy, and driven by voluntary 'exit' decisions resulting from private cost-benefit calculations that lead workers and firms to opt out of formal institutions. They find both lenses have considerable explanatory power to understand the causes and consequences of informality in the region. Informality: exit and exclusion concludes that reducing informality levels and overcoming the 'culture of informality' will require actions to increase aggregate productivity in the economy, reform poorly designed regulations and social policies, and increase the legitimacy of the state by improving the quality and fairness of state institutions and policies. Although the study focuses on Latin America, its analysis, approach, and conclusions are relevant for all developing countries.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2007) Lederman, Daniel ; Maloney, William F.This volume studies the role of natural resources in development and economic diversification. It brings together a variety of analytical perspectives, ranging from econometric analyses of economic growth to historical studies of successful development experiences in countries with abundant natural resources.
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.