Zhao, D., Chen, Y. & Shen, J.H., 2020. Mortgage Payments and Household Consumption in Urban China. Economic Modelling , 93 , pp. 100-111.Abstract

By exploiting variation both in mortgage payoffs and mortgage interest rate resets, we find that a decline in mortgage payments induces a significant increase in nondurable goods spending, even when households have substantial amounts of liquidity. Following mortgage payoff, households increase consumption expenditures by 61% of the original payment. In comparison, households increase consumption by only 36% in response to a transitory payment adjustment induced by interest rate changes. Households with a higher payment-to-income ratio have a significantly lower marginal propensity to consume (MPC). These results have practical implications for policy markers seeking to design consumption boosting policies and are important for understanding how changes in monetary policy may affect consumer spending patterns.

Coscia, M., Neffke, F. & Hausmann, R., 2020. Knowledge Diffusion in the Network of International Business Travel. Nature Human Behaviour. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We use aggregated and anonymized information based on international expenditures through corporate payment cards to map the network of global business travel. We combine this network with information on the industrial composition and export baskets of national economies. The business travel network helps to predict which economic activities will grow in a country, which new activities will develop and which old activities will be abandoned. In statistical terms, business travel has the most substantial impact among a range of bilateral relationships between countries, such as trade, foreign direct investments and migration. Moreover, our analysis suggests that this impact is causal: business travel from countries specializing in a specific industry causes growth in that economic activity in the destination country. Our interpretation of this is that business travel helps to diffuse knowledge, and we use our estimates to assess which countries contribute or benefit the most from the diffusion of knowledge through global business travel.
Cortes, P., Kasoolu, S. & Pan, C., 2020. Labor Market Nationalization Policies and Firm Outcomes: Evidence from Saudi Arabia.Abstract
Saudi Arabia is home to the world’s third largest migrant population. Under mounting pressure to increase the private sector employment of Saudis during the last decade, a series of nationalization policies on the labor force have been imposed since late 2011. In this paper, we study how the first nationalization policy, Nitaqat, affected the overall labor market and non-oil firms in the private sector, especially exporting firms. Our rich and novel data allow us to assess the effect of the policy on a wide set of outcomes: employment decisions by composition and size, the output and productivity of exporting firms, labor costs, and exit from the market. Using a difference-in-difference analysis, we compare the 2011 to 2012 change in outcomes between firms above and firms below the threshold required for the minimum share of Saudi workers in a firm. Our results suggest that the policy succeeded in encouraging firms to increase the share of Saudis in private firms. It also increased the share of Saudi women in the workforce, suggesting that the policy had a positive effect on increasing female labor force participation. However, these gains came at a very high cost to firms: our findings suggest that the policy led to a reduced firm size, reduced productivity and output of exporting firms, increased wage bill, increased share of low-skilled Saudi workers, and higher firm exit rates.
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.

Protzer, E.S.M., 2019. Social Mobility Explains Populism, Not Inequality or Culture.Abstract
This paper advances a largely-overlooked explanation for the contemporary rise of developed-world populism: economic unfairness. According to this perspective, humans do not simply care about the magnitudes of final outcomes such as losses or inequalities. They care deeply about whether outcomes occur for fair reasons. Thus citizens turn to populism when they do not get the economic opportunities and outcomes they think they fairly deserve. A series of cross-sectional regressions show that low social mobility – an important type of economic unfairness – consistently correlates with the geography of populism, both within and across developed countries. Conversely, income and wealth inequality do not; and neither do the prominent cultural hypotheses of immigrant stocks, social media use, and the share of seniors in the population. Collectively, this evidence underlines the importance of economic fairness, and suggests that academics and policymakers should pay greater attention to normative, moral questions about the economy.
Revised September 2020
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.
"City Design, Planning & Policy Innovations" book cover
Barrios, D. & Santos, M.A., 2019. Is There Life After Ford?. In City Design, Planning & Policy Innovations: The Case of Hermosillo. Inter-American Development Bank, pp. 131-53. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This publication summarizes the outcomes and lessons learned from the Fall 2017 course titled “Emergent Urbanism: Planning and Design Visions for the City of Hermosillo, Mexico” (ADV-9146). Taught by professors Diane Davis and Felipe Vera, this course asked a group of 12 students to design a set of projects that could lay the groundwork for a sustainable future for the city of Hermosillo—an emerging city located in northwest Mexico and the capital of the state of Sonora. Part of a larger initiative funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the North-American Development Bank in collaboration with Harvard University, ideas developed for this class were the product of collaboration between faculty and students at the Graduate School of Design, the Kennedy School’s Center for International Development and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Written by Miguel Angel Santos and Douglas Barrios—two Growth Lab research fellows—the fourth chapter titled “Is There Life After Ford?” focuses on Hermosillo’s economic competitiveness and, specifically, the reasons behind the city’s economic stagnation. It sees the city’s overreliance on the automobile industry as a primary concern. Based on two methodologies developed at the Growth Lab—the Growth Diagnostic and the Economic Complexity Analysis—this piece proposes alternative pathways for Hermosillo’s future economic growth.

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.
Bustos, S. & Yıldırım, M.A., 2019. Production Ability and Economic Growth.Abstract
Production is shaped by capability requirements of products and availability of these capabilities across locations. We propose a capabilities based production model and an empirical strategy to measure product sophistication and location’s production ability. We apply our framework to international trade data, and employment data in the US, recovering measures of production ability for countries and cities, and sophistication of products and industries. We show that both country and city level measures have a strong correlation with income, and economic growth at different time horizons. Product sophistication is positively correlated with measures like education and training needed in the industry. Our model-based estimations also predict the diversification patterns through the extensive margin.
Gorrín, J., A., J.R.M. & Ricca, B., 2019. The Impact of the Mexican Drug War on Trade.Abstract
This paper studies the unintended economic consequences of increases in violence following the Mexican Drug War. We study the effects on exports in municipalities with different levels of exposure to violence after the policy. A focus on exports allows us to control for demand shocks by comparing exports of the same product to the same country of destination. Building on the close elections identification strategy proposed by Dell (2015), we show that municipalities that are exogenously exposed to the Drug War experience a 40% decrease in export growth on the in- tensive margin. Large exporters suffer larger effects, along with exports of more complex, capital intensive, and skill intensive products. Finally, using firm level data, we provide evidence consistent with violence increasing marginal exporting costs.
Barrios, D., et al., 2018. Tabasco: Diagnóstico de Crecimiento.Abstract

Since 2003, the GDP per capita of Tabasco has consistently figured among the 4 largest in the country. However, this level of economic activity has not translated into an equally favorable performance in other social welfare metrics. According to CONEVAL, the Tabasco poverty rate in 2016 was 50.9%, seven percentage points higher than the national rate (43.6%). On the other hand, the average monthly income of the workers of the state is in the 40th percentile of all the states.

This discrepancy can be explained because the mining activity, despite accumulating only 3% of jobs, represents more than 50% of the state's GDP. If we only consider non-oil GDP, we have that the GDP per capita of the state has tended to be located around the country's median, and for 2016 it was in the 30th percentile nationwide.

Barrios, D., et al., 2018. Tabasco: Reporte de Complejidad Ecónomica.Abstract

Este estudio busca identificar las capacidades productivas de Tabasco a partir de un análisis de la composición de sus exportaciones y su empleo basándose en la perspectiva de la complejidad económica. Asimismo, busca identificar productos potenciales que requieran una base de conocimientos productivos similar a la que ya tiene Tabasco y que le permita mejorar su complejidad económica actual y prospectiva.

Para tales efectos, primero se explora la evolución en el tiempo del valor de las exportaciones de Tabasco y la composición de las mismas, así como de los principales productos de exportación. En sentido, se tiene que las exportaciones de Tabasco están determinadas por el sector petrolero. Los envíos de petróleo representan alrededor del 97% de las exportaciones estatales y explican más del 90% del aumento de las exportaciones de la última década.

Barrios, D., et al., 2018. Tabasco: Diagnóstico Industrial.Abstract

En este estudio se consideraron los productos priorizados en el Reporte de Complejidad Económica de Tabasco y se procedió a evaluar su potencial a partir de un conjunto de consideraciones de mercado. Luego, se agregó el potencial de cada producto en distintas colecciones de producto, y se seleccionó una industria cuya estimulación y desarrollo constituya una apuesta de desarrollo prometedora el estado. Respecto de éste se detallaron algunas estadísticas generales como una forma de evaluar su potencial de crecimiento e impacto para la economía local, estatal y nacional.

Para el objeto de este estudio, el sector industrial escogido para el análisis de cuellos de botella fue el de “Químicos” y, más puntualmente, los productos: “Agentes de limpieza orgánicos (ex. Jabón)”, “Aprestos y aceleradores de tintura”, “Mezclas de sustancias odoríferas”, “Placas fotográficas” y “Tinta”. El desarrollo de esta colección de productos representa una importante oportunidad, la que, a la fecha, los productores mexicanos no han podido aprovechar del todo. Sin embargo, estos productos han presentado un gran dinamismo dentro de México en los años recientes. Entre 2004 y 2014, las exportaciones de México en estos productos se han duplicado, el empleo en los sectores asociados a estos productos ha aumentado un 20%, y el salario promedio en estos sectores ha aumentado entre 40% y 50%.

Barrios, D., et al., 2018. Tabasco: Insumos para el desarrollo de recomendaciónes.Abstract
En este documento se presentaron una serie de insumos para el desarrollo de políticas para Tabasco, que apuntan a la estructuración de una estrategia de transformación productiva que le permita al estado revertir la tendencia adversa de los últimos años y promover una senda de crecimiento sostenido. Asimismo, este documento buscó consolidar los principales hallazgos de las investigaciones que hicieron parte del proyecto “Diseño de estrategias de transformación productiva para Tabasco.