Economic Complexity

Guerra, A., 2016. More Goals, More Growth? A Take on the Mexican Sports Economy through the Economic Complexity Framework.Abstract

In order to appropriately understand the sports sector, its magnitude, embeddedness in the economy, and strategic value, it is necessary to develop a framework through which to study it. Having a standardized and comprehensive methodology to analyze the sports sector will allow policymakers, academics, and other stakeholders to look at the sports sector at a new level of detail and rigor.

Previous work has outlined the numerous data quality and aggregation challenges currently present in the sports economy literature (Russell, Barrios & Andrews 2016). In light of these challenges, this paper attempts to build on the suggested categorization of the sports industry and develop a sound strategy to analyze the sector through an empirical exercise in a specific context: the Mexican Economy.

To this end, we first attempt to understand how connected the sports sector is to other activities in the economy and identify which sectors share similar know-how with m1. Additionally, we attempt to determine the relative magnitude of the sports sector through variables such as value added and employment.

Similarly, we consider study the spatial considerations around sports related economic activities at a subnational level. The advancement of spatial economics has allowed us to understand a new dimension of how an economic sector can develop and how characteristics inherent to a given geography can play a role in determining why some activities end up appearing and developing in the places they do.

Lastly, some descriptive and regression analysis efforts in this paper enabled us to better understand and characterize the sports sector. Such exercises allow us to learn what type of workers typically comprises the sports sector, and whether such profile is different across the different categories of sports activities. Among the variables analyzed I the descriptive exercise, we can look at education level and wages–among others–of those who work on this sector, and compare them to the overall employed population.

This paper is structured as follows: Section 1 will make the case for how publicly available data in Mexico meets the level of detail required for this type of study. Section 2 will look at the way in which the sports sector is nested in the overall economy. Section 3 studies the magnitude of the sports sector through different metrics. Section 4 looks at the type of jobs that comprise the sports sector. Section 5 looks at the differences in intensity of sports activities and early work on its potential causal roots. Section 6 provides some conclusions.

These are the brutal emergency measures it would take to pull Venezuela back from total collapse right now

July 6, 2016

Growth Lab research - Quartz

Venezuela, the world’s most oil-rich nation, is currently also the world’s biggest economic basket case.

Coca-Cola has stopped Coke production because there is no sugar. International airlines—including Aeromexico last month (paywall)—are halting flights to and from Caracas because currency controls make it nearly impossible to ship profits back home. Venezuelans are looting supermarkets to feed themselves.... Read more about These are the brutal emergency measures it would take to pull Venezuela back from total collapse right now

Bahar, D. & Santos, M.A., 2016. One More Resource Curse: Dutch Disease and Export Concentration.Abstract

Economists have long discussed the negative effect of Dutch disease episodes on the non-resource tradable sector as a whole, but little has been said on its impact on the composition of the non-resource export sector. This paper fills this gap by exploring to what extent concentration of a country’s non-resource export basket is determined by their exports of natural resources. We present a theoretical framework that shows how upward pressure in wages caused by a resource windfall results in higher export concentration. We then document two robust empirical findings consistent with the theory. First, using data on discovery of oil and gas fields and of commodity prices as sources of exogenous variation, we find that countries with larger shares of natural resources in exports have more concentrated non-resource export baskets. Second, we find capital-intensive exports tend to dominate the export basket of countries prone to Dutch disease episodes.

Listen to the podcast interview with the authors

Peruvian Atlas of Economic Complexity

Peru faces significant differences in the distribution of income among regions. In 2014, the richest department (Moquegua) was seven times richer than the poorest two (Apurimac and Huanuco). A comparison of poverty rates among Peruvian districts (a variable not determined, but highly correlated to GDP per capita) unveiled differences of more than 300 among the poorest (Curgos district in La Libertad, with 94.8% poverty rate) and the richest (San Isidro district in Lima, with 0.3%). Among the multiple factors behind these geographical differences, productivty stands out as one of the...

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The top 10 sources of data for international development research

The top 10 sources of data for international development research

March 17, 2016

The Guardian

It’s easy to be a bit nostalgic for work pre-internet, when research could involve exploring the dusty confines of the British Library or the excitement of digging out an old tome from a government archive with numbers on Ugandan coffee exports from 1957. But nothing really beats the satisfaction available today from downloading in just three or four clicks the entire import-export database for the same country. Yet, it can be tempting to make Wikipedia or Google the default for research. So, here are some gems which make international development research better, easier and more productive.

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En bienes exportados, Barranquilla es el de más complejidad económica

February 25, 2016

Colombia Atlas in La Republica

Bogotá - En agosto de 2014, se anunció la creación del Atlas de la Complejidad Económica, liderado por el profesor Ricardo Hausmann de la Universidad de Harvard, para identificar las potencialidades de cada región. El presidente de Bancóldex, Luis Fernando Castro, habló con LR sobre los primeros hallazgos que está entregando esta herramienta, que se publicaría por completo dentro de un mes.


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Q&A with Ricardo Hausmann

December 16, 2015

Progreso, Fundacion BBVA MicroFinanzas

What do you think are the key determinants of a country’s economic and social development?

Life in modern-day society is complex. It requires numerous complementary ingredients and, if just one of them is missing, it will have huge negative effects. Thus, two equally poor countries may suffer from the absence of very different ingredients. This is also why simple recipes, such as education, microcredit or “institutions”, are inadequate answers. But if I had to come up with a synthetic vision to encompass all developing countries, I would say that the secret to development or, in any case, the most difficult ingredient to accumulate is collective know-how or knowing-how-to-do things. The secret to prosperity is technology, but technology is expressed in three kinds of elements: tools or equipment, codes or prescriptions, and know-how or tacit knowledge. While tools and prescriptions are easy to disseminate, know-how is hard to spread, because it is acquired slowly through imitation and repetition, in the same way that we learn to walk or learn a language as children. Nobody learns to play a sport or diagnose a patient by reading about it. It requires years of practice.... Read more about Q&A with Ricardo Hausmann

Mexico Atlas of Economic Complexity

Large income gaps prevail across regions in Mexico. Nuevo Leon exhibits levels of productivity similar to those of South Korea, while Guerrero and Chiapas experience productivity levels below Honduras. These large disparities reproduce even as we break into smaller geographical units: Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas' capital, has eight times the income of Aldama and Mitontic, its poorest municipalities.

The Mexican Atlas of Economic Complexity is a diagnostic tool that...

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Hausmann, R., Cheston, T. & Santos, M.A., 2015. La Complejidad Economica de Chiapas.Abstract

Chiapas es el estado más pobre de México, y también el menos diversificado en su estructura productiva. Según los hallazgos de este reporte, esa dualidad no es una coincidencia casual. La escasa complejidad económica de Chiapas, medida tanto por la escasa sofisticación de sus exportaciones como por la exigua diversidad en la composición de su empleo, es uno de los factores asociados a sus bajos niveles de ingreso y escaso crecimiento. Para cambiar el patrón de crecimiento de Chiapas es necesario cambiar su estructura de producción, haciéndola más compleja y sofisticada.

Afortunadamente, existe un enorme potencial para que diferentes lugares de Chiapas se muevan de manera gradual hacia productos e industrias de mayor sofisticación, con base en el conocimiento con el que ya cuentan hoy en día. No todos los lugares tienen el mismo potencial; la diversidad de capacidades productivas que existe en México se reproduce hacia el interior de Chiapas de manera fractal. Nuestros análisis indican que la variedad de niveles de ingresos hacia adentro de las regiones sigue siendo mayor que las diferencias entre los promedios de esas regiones. Esta característica justifica la utilización de un enfoque municipal, centrado en aquellas zonas urbanas de mayor población, con suficiente diversidad y sofisticación como para justificar un análisis de productos e industrias “adyacentes” de mayor complejidad que requieran capacidades similares a las ya existentes. Este enfoque reconoce que la esperanza en el corto plazo para muchos ciudadanos que no habitan en la vecindad de las regiones más sofisticadas del estado está en la posibilidad de moverse gradualmente hacia niveles de productividad agrícola más alta.

En este reporte se identifican cuáles son los productos e industrias que ofrecen las mejores posibilidades de diversificación productiva para incrementar la complejidad económica de cuatro de los municipios más complejos de Chiapas, considerando sus capacidades iniciales. Como resultado, se presenta un resumen diferenciado de las principales posibilidades y los retos que debe superar cada lugar para capitalizarlas. Comitán de Domínguez debe centrarse en resolver restricciones logísticas asociadas a conflictos sociales para capitalizar sus posibilidades como destino turístico de alto nivel, y desarrollar una base de fabricación de artículos para el hogar y textiles. San Cristóbal de las Casas está bien posicionado para aprovechar las habilidades desarrolladas en la producción de artesanías y transferirlas a la de textiles sofisticados, en adición a nuevas oportunidades en recubrimientos metálicos, y fabricación de alimentos y bebidas. Para materializar el potencial de Tuxtla Gutiérrez se requiere reconvertir ese amplio sector de servicios que responde a la demanda creada por el gasto público en la capital del estado, en una base de manufacturas más diversa.  Los principales candidatos para movilizar esa transformación productiva son los sectores de textiles y peletería, procesamiento de alimentos, y ciertas categorías particulares de maquinaria por línea de producción.

De todas las regiones de Chiapas, Tapachula es la que posee mayor potencial para expandir su base exportadora hacia productos de mayor complejidad. La región concentra la mayoría de las exportaciones del estado, y cuenta con la creación de la Zona Económica Especial (ZEE) y su parque industrial que permiten abordar nuevas capacidades productivas más complejas y adyacentes. Se identifica el potencial de los productos plásticos, de pinturas y películas, y de metalurgia, de relojes y equipos de soldadura, como unas oportunidades únicas en el estado para promover su transformación productiva.

Nuestro reporte concluye con una reflexión sobre la necesidad de traducir la identificación de los potenciales de cada una de las regiones en una realidad distinta, en una economía diversa, compleja, y próspera. La transformación productiva de Chiapas comenzará por la mejora de la productividad agrícola y la creación de oportunidades en las zonas urbanas que permiten aglomeraciones de conocimientos diversos en firmas complejas. El crecimiento económico en Chiapas no requiere innovación, sino más bien de que el estado aprenda del resto de México a producir de manera eficiente los bienes que el resto del país ya produce.  

Esta posibilidad exige a su vez de la existencia de un sector público capaz de convocar a firmas existentes, y otras que ya operan en el resto de México, para inaugurar nuevas facilidades de producción en Chiapas, combinando nuevas tecnologías y conocimientos con los que ya existen en la región. Así, se va desarrollando de forma gradual la densidad de su tejido productivo y diversidad económica. En última instancia, la clave para capitalizar el enorme potencial de Chiapas está en un cambio en la orientación del discurso productivo, que priorice la diversificación de la economía y la conquista gradual de sectores de mayor complejidad como herramienta para promover el crecimiento inclusivo.

The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity
Hausmann, R., et al., 2013. The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity 2nd ed., Cambridge: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

From the foreword:

It has been two years since we published the first edition of The Atlas of Economic Complexity. "The Atlas," as we have come to refer to it, has helped extend the availability of tools and methods that can be used to study the productive structure of countries and its evolution.

Many things have happened since the first edition of The Atlas was released at CID's Global Empowerment Meeting, on October 27, 2011. The new edition has sharpened the theory and empirical evidence of how knowhow affects income and growth and how knowhow itself grows over time. In this edition, we also update our numbers to 2010, thus adding two more years of data and extending our projections. We also undertook a major overhaul of the data. Sebastián Bustos and Muhammed Yildirim went back to the original sources and created a new dataset that significantly improves on the one used for the 2011 edition. They developed a new technique to clean the data, reducing inconsistencies and the problems caused by misreporting. The new dataset provides a more accurate estimate of the complexity of each country and each product. With this improved dataset, our results are even stronger.

All in all, the new version of The Atlas provides a more accurate picture of each country’s economy, its "adjacent possible" and its future growth potential.

For up-to-date datasets and new visualizations, visit



Hausmann, R. & Chauvin, J., 2015. Moving to the Adjacent Possible: Discovering Paths for Export Diversification in Rwanda.Abstract

How can Rwanda, which currently has one of the lowest levels of income and exports per capita in the world, grow and diversify its economy in presence of significant constraints? We analyze Rwanda's historical growth and trade performance and find that Rwanda's high transportation costs and limited productive knowledge have held back greater export development and have resulted in excessive rural density. Three basic commodities – coffee, tea, and tin – made up more than 80 percent of the country's exports through its history and still drive the bulk of export growth today. Given Rwanda’s high population density and associated land scarcity, these traditional exports cannot create enough jobs for its growing population, or sustainably drive future growth. Rwanda needs new, scalable activities in urban areas. In this report, we identify a strategy for greater diversification of exports in Rwanda that circumvents the key constraints and is separately tailored for regional and global export destinations. Our results identify more than 100 tradable products that lie at Rwanda's knowledge frontier, are not intensive in Rwanda's scarce resources, and economize on transportation costs. Our analysis produces a vision of a more diversified Rwanda, which can be used as a guide for investment promotion decisions. We illustrate an approach that can be applied to other settings in order to identify opportunities for export diversification that take seriously local constraints and external market opportunities.