Green Growth

Hausmann, R., 2022. Green Growth Opportunities. Finance & Development , (December 2022). Publisher's VersionAbstract

Picture yourself as finance minister of a developing economy. An eager environmentalist tries to convince you of the moral imperative of cutting your country's greenhouse gas emissions. You soon become bored because you’ve heard it all before, and your mind moves to more pressing matters. Your country is full of problems, from economic instability and inflation to challenges funding public services. Reducing emissions is not a priority.

Even if you were to succeed, your impact on the climate would be minuscule. Countries as populous as Pakistan, Nigeria, and Egypt each represent less than 1 percent of the world‘s emissions. Your country’s emissions—even cumulative since the industrial revolution—are infinitesimally small. Eliminating them all would have no material impact on the climate: you would have incurred costs and forgone opportunities to deliver economic prosperity with little to show for it.

Yet it would be a grave mistake not to consider climate change as an important aspect of your job. Change is sweeping across the global economy as countries recognize that the world must slash emissions to prevent a climate catastrophe. Decarbonization will reduce demand for dirty goods and services and increase demand for those that are cleaner and greener. The question is not what you can do to reduce your country’s emissions but how you can supercharge your country’s development by breaking into fast-growing industries that will help the world reduce its emissions and reach net zero.

Your country‘s history has been fundamentally shaped by the development of the few products it is able to make at home and sell abroad. Successful economies in east Asia and eastern Europe have sustained decades of high growth by upgrading their areas of comparative advantage, from garments to electronics to machinery and chemicals. They did not remain stuck in industries bequeathed by the past. If your country is to create jobs that pay higher wages, it will have to find new industries that can grow and export competitively even with higher wages.

Pessimists say that opportunities may have been there in the past for countries like Japan, Korea, or China, but those paths to development are now closed. Decarbonization will, however, create new opportunities—especially for those that move fast. The paths that are opening up have not been trod by many predecessors. Some are still virgin. Decarbonization will require significant greenfield investments, and plants will have to find new places to locate. This could be a great opportunity for your country, but to assess it, you must understand the changing landscape.

We do not know what technologies will power the low-carbon global economy or what materials and manufacturing capabilities they will need—nor what regulatory regimes the world will adopt, let alone what kind of cooperation or conflict will characterize relations between the largest emitters. These uncertainties will be resolved by those countries that play an active role and master the capabilities that will underpin their future comparative advantage. Keep in mind these six themes as you explore and exploit the opportunities and threats.

Hausmann, R., et al., 2022. Overcoming Remoteness in the Peruvian Amazonia: A Growth Diagnostic of Loreto.Abstract

Is there a tradeoff between environmental sustainability and economic development? If there is a place where that question can be approximated, that is Loreto. Located on the western flank of the Amazon jungle, Loreto is Peru’s largest state and the one with the lowest population density. Its capital, Iquitos, is the largest city without road access in the world. For three decades, the region’s income and development has diverged from that of Peru and its other Amazonian peers by orders of magnitude. And yet, despite plummeting contributions from natural resources – that predominate in the policy discussion in and on the state – Loreto has developed a more complex productive ecosystem than one would expect, given its geographical isolation. As a result, it has a stock of productive capabilities that can be redeployed in economic activities with higher value-added, able to sustain higher wages and better living standards.

We deployed a thorough Growth Diagnostic of Loreto to identify the most binding constraints preventing private investment and development in sustainable economic activities. In the process, we relied on domestic databases available to the public in Peru and international datasets, combining and validating our analytical insights with extensive field visits to the Peruvian Amazonia and lengthy interviews with policymakers, private businesses, and academia. Improving fluvial connectivity, developing the capacity to sort out coordination failures associated with the process of self-discovery, and substituting oil for solar energy, are the three policy goals that would deliver the largest bang for the reform buck. The latter presents an opportunity for environmental organizations – subsidizing solar – to move away from their status quo of preventing bad things from happening, to a more constructive one that entails enabling good things and sustainable industries to happen.

Project page: Economic Growth and Structural Transformation in Loreto, Peru

O'Brien, T., et al., 2022. What Will It Take for Jordan to Grow?.Abstract
This report aims to answer the critical but difficult question: "What will it take for Jordan to grow?" Though Jordan has numerous active growth and reform strategies in place, they do not clearly answer this fundamental question. The Jordanian economy has experienced more than a decade of slow growth. Per capita income today is lower than it was prior to the Global Financial Crisis as Jordan has experienced a refugee-driven population increase. Jordan’s comparative advantages have narrowed over time as external shocks and responses to these shocks have changed the productive structure of Jordan’s economy. This was a problem well before the country faced the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jordanian economy has lost productivity, market access, and, critically, the ability to afford high levels of imports as a share of GDP. Significant efforts toward fiscal consolidation have further constrained aggregate demand, which has slowed non-tradable activity and the ability of the economy to create jobs. Labor market outcomes have worsened over time and are especially bad for women and youth. Looking ahead, this report identifies clear and significant opportunities for Jordan to strengthen new engines of export growth that would enable better overall job creation and resilience, even amidst the continued unpredictability of the pandemic. This report argues that there is need for a paradigm shift in Jordan’s growth strategy to focus more direct attention and resources on activating “agents of change” to accelerate the emergence of key growth opportunities, and that there are novel roles that donor countries can play in support of this.