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 27
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) Gawande, Kishore ; Maloney, William ; Montes Rojas, Gabriel V.There exist legal channels for informational lobbying of U.S. policymakers by foreign principals. Foreign governments and private sector principals frequently and intensively use this institutional channel to lobby on trade and tourism issues. The authors empirically study whether such lobbying effectively achieves its goal of trade promotion in the context of Caribbean tourism and it is the first paper to examine the potential for using foreign lobbying as a vehicle for development. They use panel data to explore and quantify the association between foreign lobbying by Caribbean principals and U.S. tourist arrivals to Caribbean destinations. A variety of sensitivity analyses support the finding of a strong association. The policy implications are obvious and potentially important for developing countries.
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, 2007-07) 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) Krebs, Tom ; Krishna, Pravin ; Maloney, William F.This paper develops a framework for the quantitative analysis of individual income dynamics, mobility and welfare. Individual income is assumed to follow a stochastic process with two (unobserved) components, component representing measurement error or transitory income shocks and an Autoregressive (AR(1)) component representing persistent changes in income. The analysis uses a tractable consumption-saving model with labor income risk and incomplete markets to relate income dynamics to consumption and welfare, and derive analytical expressions for income mobility and welfare as a function of the various parameters of the underlying income process. The empirical application of the framework using data on individual incomes from Mexico provides striking results. Much of measured income mobility is driven by measurement error or transitory income shocks and therefore (almost) welfare-neutral. A smaller part of measured income mobility is due to either welfare-reducing income risk or welfare-enhancing catching-up of low-income individuals with high-income individuals, both of which have economically significant effects on social welfare. Decomposing mobility into its fundamental components is thus seen to be crucial from the standpoint of welfare evaluation.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-03) Maloney, WilliamTracking flows of workers among different sectors of employment during economic downturns can shed light on the mechanism of labor market adjustment and inform the design of safety net programs. Though patterns may differ across recessions, the author find that the generally countercyclical rise in unemployment and informality is driven primarily by a reduction in hiring in the formal sector, rather than increased labor shedding. Further, changes in the rate of separations from informality are the largest determinant of changes in unemployment. Both suggest that safety nets should focus less on formal job loss per se and more generally on movements in family incomes, perhaps revealed through self targeting mechanisms.
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, 2005-05) 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.
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.