Maloney, William Francis
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
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 23
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(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003) De Ferranti, David ; Perry, Guillermo E. ; Gill, Indermit ; Guasch, J. Luis ; Maloney, William F. ; Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina ; Schady, NorbertThis report focuses not only on the gaps facing Latin America in both education and technology, but especially on the interactions between the two. The central premise of the report is that skills and technology interact in important ways, and this relationship is a fundamental reason for the large observed differences in productivity and incomes across countries. This report argues that skills upgrading technological change, and their interaction are major factors behind total factor productivity growth. Skill-biased technological change is indeed being transferred today at faster speeds to LAC countries, as elsewhere. Technological change has been complementary with skill levels in Latin America in the last two decades. It is further estimated that firms have substantially increased the demand for educated workers in the region, particularly workers with tertiary education. This technological transformation appears to be intimately related to patterns of integration in the world economy. Firms in sectors with higher exposure to trade are subject to more competitive pressures. Adopting and adapting more advanced technologies and hiring and training more educated workers is one way to respond to this pressure to become more productive. The increased potential demand for education offers the possibility to accelerate productivity growth in the economy by closing the educational and technological gaps that Latin American countries exhibit with respect to their peers.
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, 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, 2001-08) Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Maloney, William F.The authors present the first comparable dynamic panel estimates of labor demand elasticity, using data from Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. They examine the benefits, and limits of the Arellano, and Bond GMM in differences estimator, and the Blundell, and Bond GMM system estimator. They also explore the limitations of such measures for diagnosing flexibility in the labor market. Even accounting for the large variance induced by different estimation techniques, one probably cannot say much about the flexibility of different labor markets based on comparisons of the estimated elasticity of demand. Colombia, for example, which has severe restrictions on firing workers, has much higher long-run wage elasticity than Chile, which has no such restrictions. Three factors make such comparisons difficult: 1) Elasticity differ greatly across industries, so the composition of industry in each country probably affects the aggregate elasticity. Estimates are extremely dependent on the estimation approach, and specification. 2) Even for specific industries, the elasticity of labor demand differs greatly across countries. And the authors find no common pattern of country rankings across industries, which suggests that those differences cannot be attributed solely to systematic characteristics of the countries' labor markets. 3) Estimates for Chile over fifteen years, suggest substantial, and significant variations in elasticity over time. So comparisons across countries depend not only on the industries involved, but also on the sample periods of time used. Estimates change greatly, if not secularly, with sample period.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-08) Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Maloney, William F. ; Ribeiro, EduardoThere are increasing fears that trade reform - and globalization generally - will increase the uncertainty the average (especially less skilled) worker faces. If product markets become more competitive and the access to foreign inputs is increased, will demand for workers among existing firms become more elastic? Will labor markets become more volatile because bad shocks to output will translate into greater impacts on wages and employment? So far the literature on this question has focused almost entirely on labor demand within continuing firms. But much of the movement in the job market arises from the entry and exit of firms. The authors show that firms entering and exiting a market contribute almost as much to employment changes as firms continuing in a market. In several samples, firms entering and exiting affected the net change in-positions more than the expansion of continuing plants did, although contributions varied greatly across the business cycle and period of adjustment. Estimates of labor demand elasticities of entering and exiting firms were surprisingly similar in Chile and Colombia and somewhat higher than elasticities for firms that survived. Estimates of the effect of trade liberalization offer only ambiguous lessons on trade reform's probable impact on these elasticities. The data suggest that in Chile greater exchange rate protection does reduce the wage-employment elasticity of entering and exiting plants, but the results are reversed in Colombia's case. Moreover, in Colombia higher import penetration lowers the elasticity of labor demand and in Chile higher tariffs increase it. These findings, combined with very ambiguous results from probit regressions on the determinants of plant exit, suggest that circumspection is warranted in asserting that trade liberalization will increase the wage elasticity of labor demand.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-04) Maloney, William F. ; Nunez, Jairo ; Cunningham, Wendy ; Fiess, Norbert ; Montenegro, Claudio ; Murrugarra, Edmundo ; Santamaria, Mauricio ; Sepulveda, ClaudiaThe authors provide an overview of minimum wage levels in Latin America and their true impact on the distribution of wages, using both numerical measures and kernal density plots for eight countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, and Uruguay). They especially try to identify "numeraire" effects--where the minimum is used as a reference higher in the wage distribution--and "lighthouse" effects--where it influences wage setting in the unregulated or "informal" sector. Their main findings: First, statutory minimum wages are often misleading, and graphical methods may be more reliable. Second, the minimum wage's effect on wage setting extends far beyond what is usually considered and probably beyond the effect in industrial countries. Using panel employment data from Colombia, where minimum wages seem high and binding, the authors quantify the minimum wage's effects on wages and on the probability of becoming unemployed. The Colombian case confirms the evidence offered by kernal density estimates: 1) The minimum wage can have an important impact on wage distribution in the neighborhood of the minimum wage. 2) The effects echo up the wage distribution in a clear demonstration of the "numeraire" effect. That this effect is stronger in Latin America than in the United States suggests that the minimum wage induces further-reaching rigidities in the labor market. The trade-off between any possible effect on poverty and reduced flexibility is likely to be more severe in countries where this is the case. The effects on employment, and unemployment, are substantial. 3) Informal salaries wages are also affected, confirming the graphical evidence of strong lighthouse effects. Self-employment earnings are not, however, confirming that the minimum wage is not simply serving as a measure of inflationary expectations.