Fellow Working Papers

Gadgin Matha, S., Goldstein, P. & Lu, J., 2020. Air Transportation and Regional Economic Development: A Case Study for the New Airport in South Albania.Abstract

Considering the case of the proposed airport in Vlora, South Albania, this report analyzes the channels through which a new greenfield airport can contribute to regional economic development. In December 2019, the Government of Albania opened a call for offers to build a new airport in the south of the country. While there is evidence indicating that the airport could be commercially viable, this does not provide a grounded perspective on the channels by which the airport could boost the regional economy. To evaluate how the new airport would interact with existing and potential economic activities, this report evaluates three of the most important channels of impact by which the airport could serve as a promoter: (1) economic activities directly related to or promoted by airports, (2) the airport’s potential contribution to the region’s booming tourism sector and (3) the potential for the country’s development of air freight as a tool for export promotion. In each of these three cases, the report identifies complementary public goods or policies that could maximize the airport’s impact in the region.

The operation of the airport itself could stimulate a series of economic activities directly related to air traffic services. Airports have the ability to mold the economic structure of the places immediately around them, acting both as a consumer and as a supplier of air transport services. Not only activities related to transportation and logistics thrive around airports, but also a variety of manufacturing, trade and construction industries. Nevertheless, the agglomeration benefits of a successful aerotropolis are not guaranteed by the construction of an airport. For South Albania’s new airport to actualize its potential returns, integrated planning of the airport site will be required, with focus on real estate planification and provision of complementary infrastructure.

Establishing an airport in Vlora has the potential to spur regional development in South Albania through facilitating the growth of the tourism sector and its related activities. Albania’s tourism industry has seen strong growth in the last two decades, but still lags behind its potential. Albania only has a strong penetration in the tourism market of its neighboring markets, and the high seasonality of the tourism season further limits the sector’s growth. The establishment of an airport in South Albania would ease some of the tourism industry constraints tied to transportation into the country and region. Given the high reliance of the tourism industry on its many complementary inputs, more than one area of concern may have to be addressed for the impact of the new airport to be maximized. Facilitating transportation access around the South Albania region and specifically to tourist sites; preparing natural and cultural heritage sites for tourism use and expanding tourism infrastructure to accommodate potential growth are some of the interventions analyzed.

Airfreight infrastructure could in theory provide opportunities to improve the competitiveness of Albanian exports but developing a successful air cargo cluster is no simple task. An airport can facilitate an alternative mode of transport for specific types of goods and hence promote a country’s exports. In Albania’s case, not only existing textile and agriculture products could be competitively exported through air freight, but also air freight itself could improve Albania’s position to diversify into “nearby” industries, identified by the theory of Economic Complexity. Nevertheless, an effective air freight strategy does not and cannot uniquely depend on the simple availability of a nearby airport. Air cargo operations require both traffic volume that Albania may not be able to provide, as well as complementary cargo-specific infrastructure. Although the potential for air freight in South Albania could be high, it is by no means a safe bet nor does it imply with certainty significant impact in the immediate future.

Schetter, U., 2020. Quality Differentiation, Comparative Advantage, and International Specialization Across Products.Abstract

We introduce quality differentiation into a Ricardian model of international trade. We show that (1) quality differentiation allows industrialized countries to be active across the full board of products, complex and simple ones, while developing countries systematically specialize in simple products, in line with novel stylized facts. (2) Quality differentiation may thus help to explain why richer countries tend to be more diversified and why, increasingly over time, rich and poor countries tend to export the same products. (3) Quality differentiation implies that the gains from inter-product trade mostly accrue to developing countries. (4) Guided by our theory, we use a censored regression model to estimate the link between a country’s GDP per capita and its export quality. We find a much stronger relationship than when using OLS, in line with our theory.

Bahar, D., Rapoport, H. & Turati, R., 2020. Does Birthplace Diversity Affect Economic Complexity? Cross-country Evidence.Abstract
We empirically investigate the relationship between a country’s economic complexity and the diversity in the birthplaces of its immigrants. Our cross-country analysis suggests that countries with higher birthplace diversity by one standard deviation are more economically complex by 0.1 to 0.18 standard deviations above the mean. This holds particularly for diversity among highly educated migrants and for countries at intermediate levels of economic complexity. We address endogeneity concerns by instrumenting diversity through predicted stocks from a pseudo-gravity model as well as from a standard shift-share approach. Finally, we provide evidence suggesting that birthplace diversity boosts economic complexity by increasing the diversification of the host country’s export basket.
Bahar, D., Choudhury, P. & Rapoport, H., 2020. Migrant Inventors and the Technological Advantage of Nations.Abstract

We investigate the relationship between the presence of migrant inventors and the dynamics of innovation in the migrants’ receiving countries. We find that countries are 25 to 60 percent more likely to gain advantage in patenting in certain technologies given a twofold increase in the number of foreign inventors from other nations that specialize in those same technologies. For the average country in our sample, this number corresponds to only 25 inventors and a standard deviation of 135. We deal with endogeneity concerns by using historical migration networks to instrument for stocks of migrant inventors. Our results generalize the evidence of previous studies that show how migrant inventors "import" knowledge from their home countries, which translates into higher patenting in the receiving countries. We interpret these results as tangible evidence of migrants facilitating the technology-specific diffusion of knowledge across nations.

Shen, J.H., et al., 2020. Profit Sharing, Industrial Upgrading, and Global Supply Chains: Theory and Evidence.Abstract

This paper constructed a simple model to illustrate the global supply chain profit sharing and industrial upgrading mechanism, from which it was found that the average profitability distribution in the different supply chain stages was determined by two main factors: (1) the average product of the labor in the firms at each production stage; and (2) the ratio of the output elasticity of capital to the output elasticity of labor in each stage. This paper also proposed a new industrial upgrading mechanism, the ‘inter-supply chain upgrading’, for supply chain firms. Rises in production complexity and increased factor intensity in each production stage were found to be the two essential conditions for the inter-supply chain upgrading. The empirical study results were found to be broadly consistent with the proposed theories.

Revised May 2020.
Nedelkoska, L., Neffke, F. & Wiederhold, S., 2015. Skill Mismatch and the Costs of Job Displacement.Abstract
An increasing number of studies evidence large and persistent earning losses by displaced workers. We study whether these losses can partly be attributed to the skill mismatch that arises when workers’ human capital is underutilized at the new job. We develop a new method of measuring skill mismatch that accounts for asymmetries in the transferability of human capital between occupations, and link these measures to exceptionally rich German administrative data on individuals’ work histories. We find that displacement increases the probability of occupational switching and skill mismatch, primarily because displaced workers often move to less skill-demanding occupations. Event-study analyses show that these downskilled switchers suffer substantially larger displacement costs than occupational stayers. Workers moving to more skill-demanding occupations have similar earning losses as stayers, and do not experience any displacement costs conditional on being employed
Schetter, U. & Tejada, O., 2019. On Globalization and the Concentration of Talent.Abstract
We analyze how globalization affects the allocation of talent across competing teams in large matching markets. Assuming a reduced form of globalization as a convex transformation of payoffs, we show that for every economy where positive assortative matching is an equilibrium without globalization, it is also an equilibrium with globalization. Moreover, for some economies positive assortative matching is an equilibrium with globalization but not without. The result that globalization promotes the concentration of talent holds under very minimal restrictions on how individual skills translate into team skills and on how team skills translate into competition outcomes. Our analysis covers many interesting special cases, including simple extensions of Rosen (1981) and Melitz (2003) with competing teams.
Bahar, D., et al., 2019. Migration and Post-conflict Reconstruction: The Effect of Returning Refugees on Export Performance in the Former Yugoslavia.Abstract
During the early 1990s Germany offered temporary protection to over 700,000 Yugoslavian refugees fleeing war. By 2000, many had been repatriated. We exploit this natural experiment to investigate the role of migrants in post-conflict reconstruction in the former Yugoslavia, using exports as outcome. Using confidential social security data to capture intensity of refugee workers to German industries–and exogenous allocation rules for asylum seekers within Germany as instrument—we find an elasticity of exports to return migration between 0.08 to 0.24. Our results are stronger in knowledge-intensive industries and for workers in occupations intensive in analytical and managerial skills.
Schetter, U., 2019. A Structural Ranking of Economic Complexity.Abstract
We propose a structural alternative to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI, Hidalgo and Hausmann 2009; Hausmann et al. 2011) that ranks countries by their complexity. This ranking is tied to comparative advantages. Hence, it reveals information different from GDP per capita on the deep underlying economic capabilities of countries. Our analysis proceeds in three main steps: (i) We first consider a simplified trade model that is centered on the assumption that countries’ global exports are log-supermodular (Costinot, 2009a), and show that a variant of the ECI correctly ranks countries (and products) by their complexity. This model provides a general theoretical framework for ranking nodes of a weighted (bipartite) graph according to some under- lying unobservable characteristic. (ii) We then embed a structure of log-supermodular productivities into a multi-product Eaton and Kortum (2002)-model, and show how our main insights from the simplified trade model apply to this richer set-up. (iii) We finally implement our structural ranking of economic complexity. The derived ranking is robust and remarkably similar to the one based on the original ECI.
Protzer, E.S.M., 2019. Social Mobility Explains Populism, Not Inequality or Culture.Abstract
What is driving contemporary populism, for example Brexit, Trump, the Gilets Jaunes, and Five-Star? Commonly-accepted answers are divided into two schools of thought, one economic and one cultural. The main explanation in the former camp is income inequality; those in the latter are social media-induced ideological polarization, unprecedented levels of immigration, and older generations reacting against millennial values. This paper exploits geographic variation in the incidence of populism to apply cross-sectional regression analysis to these arguments, and concludes that they are highly unconvincing. Instead, the thus-largely overlooked factor of social mobility is found to have far greater explanatory power. Four settings are analyzed: the 2016 US Presidential Election, the 2017 French Presidential Election, the 2019 European Parliament Elections, and the political stability of developed countries in 2018. The article contends that the decisiveness of social mobility as an explanatory variable for populism is plausibly rooted in universal human conceptions of fairness.
Revised December 2019
Pan, C.I., 2019. Tax Avoidance in Buenos Aires: The Case of Ingresos Brutos.Abstract
This study presents evidence of tax avoidance in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I exploit a break in the tax scheme of the most controversial tax, Ingresos Brutos (gross income), between the city and the greater area, which are otherwise identical law and regulation-wise for the studied population. When possible, workers would rather travel longer distances to their jobs than face the tax burden. Given that this type of avoidance is costly, results suggest that Ingresos Brutos might be acting as a binding constraint to growth for businesses.
Rama, M., 2019. Converge and European Value Chains: How Deep Integration Can Reignite Convergence in the EU.Abstract

Convergence, the process by which poorer countries ‘catch-up’ to rich ones in terms of real incomes, is at the core of the promise of the European Union and the Eurozone. It was enshrined in the founding treaty of the EU and is at the center of policy-making today. However, after several decades of strong European growth, convergence across many core countries has come to a halt. Policymaking has focused on promoting greater integration between EU countries and in particular within the Eurozone to foster further convergence but the political gridlock has stopped these initiatives from moving forward. 

Further economic and political integration is not necessary for, and may in fact be orthogonal to, greater convergence in the EU. EU countries have converged at roughly the same rate as non-EU countries since the 1950s, suggesting EU membership is not responsible for convergence. Further, there is no statistically significant difference in the rate of convergence between EA 12 or EA19 members before and after the introduction of the Euro. Finally, many current Eurozone members have converged in the last 10 years suggesting that the Euro structure does not impede convergence. Still, further integration may be desirable in the EU – not least to restore the union to its democratic ideals. 

The only variable that is associated with greater convergence in European countries is value chain integration, particularly upstream integration. Upstream integration is domestic value added embodied in intermediate exports that are re-processed abroad. High upstream integration indicates strong participation in value chains and integration into regional production networks. The level of upstream integration varies tremendously within the EU, going from 10% of GDP in Spain to 28% of GDP in Estonia. Once we control for the level of upstream integration, the rate of converge in European countries goes from 1.25% to 4.5%. 

High growth countries are deeply integrated in sub-regional supply chains within Europe. Europe is often thought of as a single supply chain but, in fact, there are several sub-regional supply chains within Europe. These sub-regional supply chains are based on strong bilateral ties between neighboring countries. Participation in one of these supply chains appears to matter more for growth than integration with any particular country (e.g. Germany) or to any specific region. Participation in these supply chains is independent of EU membership – it is due to historical ties and deliberate national policymaking. 

The EU must put cross-country collaboration at the core Horizon Europe– its €100B mission driven innovation programme – to future-proof European supply chains and reintegrate lagging countries. Horizon Europe is the EU’s bet to become a global technology leader. Leading in technology involves not only innovation but also developing the supply chains of the future that allow innovation to be commercially successful. Horizon Europe will not succeed if innovation spending continues occur in national siloes as it did in the Horizon 2020 programme. The EU must pro-actively manage and integrate innovation efforts across the Union and ensure that commercialization occurs at the EU level. Only then can we hope to achieve both EU technological leadership and convergence within the EU. 

Lora, E., 2019. Empleo Femenino en las Ciudades Colombianas: Un Método de Descripción Estadística.Abstract

Este trabajo propone una metodología de descomposición estadística para describir en
forma coherente las dimensiones del empleo femenino según la estructura del mercado
laboral y según la estructura productiva de las ciudades. La metodología se utiliza
para analizar el empleo femenino “pleno y decente” en 23 ciudades colombianas entre
2008 y 2016. Según la estructura laboral, se encuentra que la brecha de género en el
empleo pleno y decente se debe a diferencias en la participación laboral y en la
formalidad del empleo, más que a diferencias entre hombres y mujeres en el desempleo
o en la dedicación al empleo. Según la estructura productiva, se encuentra que la
orientación por sexo y la composición del empleo sectorial de las ciudades tienen
influencia modesta en las diferencias entre ciudades en la generación de empleo
femenino pleno y decente, ya que éstas resultan sobre todo de las diferencias en la
capacidad de generación de para ambos sexos. La metodología también se usa para
analizar los cambios en el período. Se sugieren posibles extensiones de la metodología
propuesta e implicaciones para futuras investigaciones.
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Female Employment in Colombian Cities: A Method of Statistical Description

This paper proposes a methodology of statistical decomposition to describe in a
coherent way the dimensions of female employment according to the structure of the
labor market and according to the productive structure of cities. The methodology is
used to analyze "full and decent" female employment in 23 Colombian cities between
2008 and 2016. According to the labor structure, it is found that the gender gap in full
and decent employment is due to differences in labor participation and in the
formality of employment, rather than differences between men and women in
unemployment or dedication to employment. According to the productive structure, it
is found that the orientation by sex and the composition of sectoral employment in
cities have a modest influence on the differences between cities in the generation of full
and decent female employment, since these are mainly the result of differences in
cities’ capacities to generate employment for both sexes. The methodology is also used
to analyze changes in the period. Potential extensions of the proposed methodology
and implications for future research are suggested.

Lora, E., 2019. Forecasting Formal Employment in Cities.Abstract
Can “full and productive employment for all” be achieved by 2030 as envisaged by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals? This paper assesses the issue for the largest 62 Colombian cities using social security administrative records between 2008 and 2015, which show that the larger the city, the higher its formal occupation rate. This is explained by the fact that formal employment creation is restricted by the availability of the diverse skills needed in complex sectors. Since skill accumulation is a gradual path-dependent process, future formal employment by city can be forecasted using either ordinary least square regression results or machine learning algorithms. The results show that the share of working population in formal employment will increase between 13 and nearly 32 percent points between 2015 and 2030, which is substantial but still insufficient to achieve the goal. Results are broadly consistent across methods for the larger cities, but not the smaller ones. For these, the machine learning method provides nuanced forecasts which may help further explorations into the relation between complexity and formal employment at the city level.

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