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Maloney, William

Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
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Innovation, Labor Economics, Trade, Productivity, Private Sector Development, Financial Sector, Spatial economics
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Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
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Last updated: February 28, 2024
Biography
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.  
Citations 202 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 76
  • Publication
    Family Firms and Contractual Institutions
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-04) Tsivanidis, Nick; Iacovone, Leonardo; Maloney, William F.
    This paper offers new evidence on the relationship between contractual institutions, family management, and aggregate performance. The study creates a new firm-level database on management and ownership structures spanning 134 regions in 11 European countries. To guide the empirical analysis, it develops a model of industry equilibrium in which heterogeneous firms decide between family and professional management when the latter are subject to contracting frictions. The paper tests the model's predictions using regional variation in trust within countries. Consistent with the model, the finding show that there is sorting of firms across management modes, in which smaller firms and those in regions with worse contracting environments are more likely to be family managed. These firms are on average 25 percent less productive than professionally managed firms, and moving from the country with the least reliable contracting environment to the most increases total factor productivity by 21.6 percent. Family management rather than ownership drives these results.
  • Publication
    Improving Management with Individual and Group-Based Consulting: Results from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-05) Iacovone, Leonardo; Maloney, William; McKenzie, David
    Differences in management quality are an important contributor to productivity differences across countries. A key question is how to best improve poor management in developing countries. This paper tests two different approaches to improving management in Colombian auto parts firms. The first uses intensive and expensive one-on-one consulting, while the second draws on agricultural extension approaches to provide consulting to small groups of firms at approximately one-third of the cost of the individual approach. Both approaches lead to improvements in management practices of a similar magnitude (8-10 percentage points), so that the new group-based approach dominates on a cost-benefit basis. Moreover, the paper finds some evidence that the group-based intervention led to increases in firm size over the next three years, while the impacts on firm outcomes are smaller and statistically insignificant for the individual consulting. The results point to the potential of group-based approaches as a pathway to scaling up management improvements.
  • Publication
    Firm Entry and Exit, Labor Demand, and Trade Reform : Evidence from Chile and Colombia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-08) Fajnzylber, Pablo; Maloney, William F.; Ribeiro, Eduardo
    There 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
    Labor Market Dynamics in Developing Countries : Comparative Analysis using Continuous Time Markov Processes
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-04) Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William
    The authors study the dynamics of three developing country labor markets using recent advances in the estimation of continuous time Markov processes. They first examine the flows of workers among five states: three types of paid labor, unemployment, and out of the labor force. The authors find a high degree of commonality in patterns of worker flows among the three countries and attempt to compare the flexibility of the markets by examining an index of overall mobility. Second, they seek to establish whether the issues of advanced country labor markets apply to developing country markets or whether the latter constitute a different phylum. Paralleling the mainstream literature on the role of being out of the labor force as discouraged unemployment, the authors then identify some common stylized facts about the role of the informal self-employed and salaried sectors and to what degree they serve as a holding pattern versus a desirable alternative to formal sector work. In the process, the authors identify very strong differences in mobility patterns between men and women and attempt to shed some light on whether these differences arise from discrimination or perhaps instead the constraints imposed by household responsibilities. Finally, they study labor market adjustment across the business cycle in Mexico and identify patterns of job creation and destruction among the three paid sectors and confirm the mainstream view of the role of out of the labor force as a procyclical phenomenon.
  • Publication
    Lessons from NAFTA for Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004-11) Lederman, Daniel; Maloney, William F.; Servén, Luis
    Analyzing 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
    Is Automation Labor-Displacing in the Developing Countries, Too? Robots, Polarization, and Jobs
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-07-25) Maloney, William F.
    This 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
    Foreign Informational Lobbying Can Enhance Tourism : Evidence from the Caribbean
    (2009) Gawande, Kishore; Maloney, William; Montes-Rojas, Gabriel
    There exist legal channels for informational lobbying of US policymakers by foreign principals. Foreign governments and private sector principals frequently and intensively use this institutional channel to lobby on trade and tourism issues. This paper empirically studies whether such lobbying effectively achieves its goal of trade promotion in the context of Caribbean tourism, and suggests the potential for using foreign lobbying as a vehicle for development. Panel data are used to explore and quantify the association between foreign lobbying by Caribbean principals and US 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
    Place, Productivity, and Prosperity: Revisiting Spatially Targeted Policies for Regional Development
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-01-21) Grover, Arti; Lall, Somik V.; Maloney, William F.
    Place matters for productivity and prosperity. Myriad factors support a successful place, including not only the hard infrastructure such as roads, but also the softer elements such as worker skills, entrepreneurial ability, and well-functioning institutions. History suggests that prosperous places tend to persist, while “left-behind” regions—or those hurt by climatic, technological, or commercial shocks—struggle to catch up. This division gives rise to demands to “do something” about the subsequent spatial inequality. Such pressures often result in costly spatially targeted policies with disappointing outcomes because of a lack of analysis of the underlying barriers to growth and structural transformation and a fair appraisal of the possibility of overcoming them. The latest volume of the World Bank Productivity Project series, Place, Productivity, and Prosperity: Revisiting Spatially Targeted Policies for Regional Development makes three broad contributions. First, it provides new analytical and empirical insights into the three drivers of economic geography—agglomeration economies, migration, and distance—and the way in which these drivers interact. Second, it argues that these forces are playing out differently in developing countries than they have in advanced economies: urbanization is not accompanied by structural transformation, leaving cities crowded and accruing all the negative aspects of urbanization without being concentrated productively. Long-term amelioration of poverty in lagging regions requires advancing the overall national agenda of structural change and productivity growth. Third, it provides a heuristic framework with which to inform policy makers’ assessments of place-based policy proposals, helping them identify the regions where policy is likely to have an impact and those that would remain nonviable. The framework enables governments to clarify the implications of various policy options; to think critically about design priorities, including necessary complementary policies; and to navigate the implementation challenges.
  • Publication
    Releasing Constraints to Growth or Pushing on a String? Policies and Performance of Mexican Micro-firms
    (2009) Fajnzylber, Pablo; Maloney, William F.; Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V.
    Using firm-level data from Mexico, this paper investigates the firm characteristics associated with participation in credit markets, access to training, tax payments, and membership in business associations. We find that firms which participate in these institutions exhibit significantly higher profits. Moreover, firms that borrow from formal or informal sources and those that pay taxes are significantly more likely to stay in business but firms that received credit exhibit lower rates of income growth. These results persist when firm characteristics that are arguably correlated with unobserved entrepreneurial ability are controlled for. Our findings suggest that the significant within-country differences in firm productivity observed in developing economies are due in part to market and government failures that limit the ability of micro-firms to reach their optimal sizes.
  • Publication
    Closing the Gap in Education and Technology
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003) De Ferranti, David; Perry, Guillermo E.; Gill, Indermit; Guasch, J. Luis; Maloney, William F.; Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina; Schady, Norbert
    This 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.