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 15
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) 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, 2003-01) Maloney, WilliamThe author develops a view of the informal sector in developing countries primarily as an unregulated micro-entrepreneurial sector and not as a disadvantaged residual of segmented labor markets. Drawing on recent work from Latin America, he offers alternative explanations for many of the characteristics of the informal sector customarily regarded as evidence of its inferiority.
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, 2008-06) Bosch, Mariano ; Maloney, WilliamThis paper analyzes the cyclical properties of worker flows in Brazil and Mexico, two important developing countries with large unregulated or informal sectors. It generates three stylized facts that are critical to the accurate modeling of the sector and which suggest the need to rethink the approaches to date. First, the unemployment rate is countercyclical essentially because job separations of informal workers increase dramatically in recessions. Second, the share of formal employment is countercyclical because of the difficulty of finding formal jobs from inactivity, unemployment and other informal jobs during recessions rather than because of increased separation from formal jobs. Third, flows from formality into informality are not countercyclical, but, if anything, pro-cyclical. Together, these challenge the conventional wisdom that has guided the modeling the sector that informal workers are primarily those rationed out of the formal labor market. They also offer a new synthesis of the mechanics of the cyclical adjustment process. Finally, the paper offers estimates of the moments of worker flows series that are needed for calibration.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-10) Bosch, Mariano ; Goni, Edwin ; Maloney, WilliamThis paper studies gross worker flows to explain the rising informality in Brazilian metropolitan labor markets from 1983 to 2002. This period covers two economic cycles, several stabilization plans, a far-reaching trade liberalization, and changes in labor legislation through the Constitutional reform of 1988. First, focusing on cyclical patterns, the authors confirm that for Brazil, the patterns of worker transitions between formality and informality correspond primarily to the job-to-job dynamics observed in the United States, and not to the traditional idea of the informal queuing for jobs in a segmented market. However, the analysis also confirms distinct cyclical patterns of job finding and separation rates that lead to the informal sector absorbing more labor during downturns. Second, focusing on secular movements in gross flows and the volatility of flows, the paper finds the rise in informality to be driven primarily by a reduction in job finding rates in the formal sector. A small fraction of this is driven by trade liberalization, and the remainder seems driven by rising labor costs and reduced flexibility arising from Constitutional reform.
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, 2005-05) Aroca Gonzalez, Patricio ; Maloney, William F.Part of the rationale for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was that it would increase trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, creating jobs and reducing migration to the United States. Since poor data on illegal flows to the United States make direct measurement difficult, Aroca and Maloney instead evaluate the mechanism behind these predictions using data on migration within Mexico where the census data permit careful analysis. They offer the first specifications for migration within Mexico, incorporating measures of cost of living, amenities, and networks. Contrary to much of the literature, labor market variables enter very significantly and as predicted once the authors control for possible credit constraint effects. Greater exposure to FDI and trade deters out-migration with the effects working partly through the labor market. Finally, the authors generate some tentative inferences about the impact on increased FDI on Mexico-U.S. migration. On average, a doubling of FDI inflows leads to a 1.5-2 percent fall in migration.