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
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.  
Citations 202 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 18
  • 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
    Trade Structure and Growth
    (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
    Spatial Dimensions of Trade Liberalization and Economic Convergence: Mexico 1985-2002
    (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
    Innovation Shortfalls
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-07) Maloney, William
    There 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
    Missed Opportunities : Innovation and Resource-Based Growth in Latin America
    (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
    R&D and Development
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-04) Lederman, Daniel; Maloney, William F.
    Lederman and Maloney trace the evolution of research and development (R&D) expenditures along the development process using a new global panel data set. They show that R&D effort measured as a share of GDP rises with development at an increasing rate. The authors examine how four groups of countries from Latin America, Asia, advanced manufacturing exporters, and advanced natural resource-abundant countries fare relative to the predicted development trajectory. Latin America generally underperforms as do some countries in Asia and Europe, but their striking finding is that some-Finland, Israel, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan (China)-have radically deviated from the predicted trajectory and displayed impressive R&D takeoffs. The authors ask whether these countries overinvest in R&D but find that the high estimates of the social rates of return probably justify this effort. Moreover, the returns to R&D decline with per capita GDP. The authors attempt to explain why rich countries invest more in R&D than poor countries. They conclude that financial depth, protection of intellectual property rights, government capacity to mobilize resources, and the quality of research institutions are the main reasons why R&D efforts rise with the level of development.
  • Publication
    Can Foreign Lobbying Enhance Development? The Case of Tourism in the Caribbean
    (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
    Why Don't Poor Countries Do R&D?
    (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
    Spatial Dimensions of Trade Liberalization and Economic Convergence : Mexico 1985-2002
    (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
    Migration, Trade, and Foreign Direct Investment in Mexico
    (Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2005-09-01) Aroca, Patricio; Maloney, William F.
    Part of the rationale for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was that it will increase trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, creating jobs and reducing migration to the United States (U.S.). Since poor data on illegal migration to the United States make direct measurement difficult, data on migration within Mexico, where census data permit careful analysis, are used instead to evaluate the mechanism behind predictions on migration to the United States. Specifications are provided 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 possible credit constraint effects are controlled for. Greater exposure to FDI and trade deters outmigration, with the effects working partly through the labor market. Finally, some tentative inferences are presented about the impact of increased FDI on Mexico- U.S. migration. On average, a doubling of FDI inflows leads to a 1.5 to 2 percent drop in migration.