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 26
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-07-25) Maloney, William F. ; Molina, CarlosThis paper uses global census data to examine whether the labor market polarization and labor-displacing automation documented in the advanced countries appears in the developing world. While confirming both effects for the former, it finds little evidence for either in developing countries. In particular,the critical category corresponding to manufacturing worker, operators and assemblers has increased in absolute terms and as a share of the labor force. The paper then uses data on robot usage to explore its impact on the relative employment evolution in each sample controlling for Chinese import penetration. Trade competition appears largely irrelevant in both cases. Robots, however, are displacing in the advanced countries, explaining 25-50 percent of the job loss in manufacturing. However, they likely crowd in operators and assemblers in developing countries. This is likely due to off-shoring that combines robots with new operators in FDI destination countries which may, for the present, offset any displacement effect. Some evidence is found, however, for incipient polarization in Mexico and Brazil.
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, 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(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(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(World Bank, Washington DC, 2023-04-04) Maloney, William ; Riera-Crichton, Daniel ; Ianchovichina, Elena Ivanova ; Vuletin, Guillermo ; Beylis, Guillermo ; Vuletin, GuillermoThe Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has proved to be relatively resilient in the face of increased debt stress, stubborn inflation, and uncertainty arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Income and employment have largely recovered from the pandemic, poverty has receded, and markets remain guardedly optimistic about the near future. However, global uncertainty is rising, including a recent wave of bank failures in the US and Europe. Strengthening resilience, both on the health and macroeconomic fronts, will be paramount. Progress remains pending in both vaccination coverage and health system preparedness, while the institutionality of macroeconomic policy in some countries is being questioned. The evolution of the global economy is providing two new areas of opportunity for the region: the trend toward nearshoring-moving production closer to the US and European markets-and the imperative to combat climate change, which is giving the region a new comparative advantage in sun, wind, hydro, and natural capital. Taking advantage of these will require greater integration into the global economy. Yet, paradoxically, in the face of these opportunities. LAC is becoming less integrated. Trade intensity has largely stagnated, and foreign direct investment (FDI) to most countries has declined. Beyond the long-term structural reforms needed to reduce systemic risk, raise the level and quality of education, invest in infrastructure, and ensure well-functioning financial markets, this report calls to preserve the reputational gains of the past 20 years in terms of macro stability and streamlining regulation dealing with customs and transport to lower the cost of doing business in the region. Export promotion agencies and investment promotion agencies can also help as they have proven track records. A comprehensive approach to both shorter- and longer-term reforms could move LAC toward a renewed and more dynamic engagement with the global economy.
The Distribution of Income Shocks during Crises : An Application of Quantile Analysis to Mexico, 1992-95(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2004-05) Maloney, William F. ; Cunningham, Wendy V. ; Bosch, MarianoMoving beyond the simple comparisons of averages typical of most analyses of household income shocks, this article employs quantile analysis to generate a complete distribution of such shocks by type of household during the 1995 crisis in Mexico. It compares the distributions across normal and crisis periods to see whether observed differences were due to the crisis or are intrinsic to the household types. Alternatively, it asks whether the distribution of shocks during normal periods was a reasonable predictor of vulnerability to income shocks during crises. It finds large differences in the distribution of shocks by household types both before and during the crisis but little change in their relative positions during the crisis. The impact appears to have been spread fairly evenly. Households headed by people with less education (poor), single mothers, or people working in the informal sector do not appear to experience disproportionate income drops either in normal times or during crises.
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, 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.