Inclusive Growth

Jäggi, A., Schetter, U. & Schneider, M.T., 2021. Inequality, Openness, and Growth through Creative Destruction.Abstract
We examine how inequality and openness interact in shaping the long-run growth prospects of developing countries. To this end, we develop a Schumpeterian growth model with heterogeneous households and non-homothetic preferences for quality. We show that inequality affects growth very differently in an open economy as opposed to a closed economy: If the economy is close to the technological frontier, the positive demand effect of inequality on growth found in closed-economy models may be amplified by international competition. In countries with a larger distance to the technology frontier, however, rich households satisfy their demand for high quality via importing, and the effect of inequality on growth is smaller than in a closed economy and may even be negative. We show that this theoretical prediction holds up in the data, both when considering growth in export quality at the industry level and when considering growth in GDP per capita.

Pathways to Inclusive Growth: Corner Store 2.0

November 23, 2015

By Busi Radebe --This blog was originally published on the African Policy Journal

Growing up in the 80’s, it was common for low-income households to visit the city once a month to buy their supply of groceries. The corner stores catered for their grocery needs throughout the month. For the business owner, your typical customer was not the most sophisticated. You knew your customers...

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Goldstein, P., 2020. Pathways for Productive Diversification in Ethiopia,Abstract

Ethiopia will need to increase the diversity of its export basket to guarantee a sustainable growth path. Ethiopia has shown stellar growth performance throughout the last two decades, but, in this period, export growth has been insufficient to finance the country’s balance of payments needs. As argued in our Growth Diagnostic report,1 Ethiopia’s growth decelerated as a result of the increasing external imbalances which have resulted in a foreign exchange constraint. This macroeconomic imbalance is now slowing the rate of economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation across the country. Although export growth will not be rapid enough to address the foreign exchange constraint on its own in the short-term, the only way for the country to achieve macroeconomic balance as it grows in the longer term is to increase its exports per capita. With only limited opportunities to expand its exports on the intensive margin, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) will have to strategically support the diversification of its economy to expand its exports base.

This report applies the theory of Economic Complexity in order to describe the base of productive knowhow and assess the opportunities and constraints to diversification in Ethiopia’s economy. The theory of Economic Complexity offers tools to capture and quantitatively estimate the diversity and sophistication of productive knowhow in an economy and to analyze the potential to develop comparative advantage in new industries. These tools provide valuable inputs for informing diversification strategies and the use of state resources by providing rigorous information on the risks and potential returns of government industrial policies in support of different sectors.

Schetter, U. & Tejada, O., 2020. On Globalization and the Concentration of Talent: A General Result on Superstar Effects and Matching.Abstract
We analyze how globalization affects the allocation of talent across competing teams in large matching markets. Focusing on amplified superstar effects, we show that a convex transformation of payoffs promotes positive assortative matching. This result holds under minimal assumptions on how skills translate into competition outcomes and how competition outcomes translate into payoffs. Our analysis covers many interesting special cases, including simple extensions of Rosen (1981) and Melitz (2003) with competing teams. It also provides new insights on the distributional consequences of globalization, and on the role of technological change, urban agglomeration, and taxation for the composition of teams.
revised October 2020
Schetter, U., Gersbach, H. & Schneider, M.T., 2019. Taxation, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. The Economic Journal , 129 (620) , pp. 1731-1781. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We explore optimal and politically feasible growth policies consisting of basic research investments and taxation. We show that the impact of basic research on the general economy rationalises a taxation pecking order with high labour taxes and low profit taxes. This scheme induces a significant proportion of agents to become entrepreneurs, thereby rationalising substantial investments in basic research fostering their innovation prospects. These entrepreneurial economies, however, may make a majority of workers worse off, giving rise to a conflict between efficiency and equality. We discuss ways of mitigating this conflict, and thus strengthening political support for growth policies.
Protzer, E.S.M., 2019. Social Mobility Explains Populism, Not Inequality or Culture.Abstract

What explains contemporary developed-world populism? A largely-overlooked hypothesis, advanced herein, is economic unfairness. This idea holds that humans do not simply care about the magnitudes of final outcomes such as losses or inequalities. They care deeply about whether each individual’s economic 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, nor 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 January 2021
"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.

Barrios, D., et al., 2018. Baja California: Insumos para el desarrollo de recomendaciones.Abstract

En primer lugar, en este reporte se realizó una consolidación de los principales hallazgos de las investigaciones previas relativas al estado. En términos generales, se planteó que la entidad destaca por ser una de las más prospera del país, pero, al mismo tiempo, por haber exhibido un virtual estancamiento económico durante los últimos años. Esta situación se explicaría, en gran medida, por el efecto de la crisis financiera en Estados Unidos sobre su demanda por exportaciones, pero también por factores más específicos al estado, tales como el mayor impacto de la recesión estadounidense producto de la integración multidimensional de la entidad con California (incluyendo la inmobiliaria) y el shock tecnológico que afectara la producción de televisores, su producto de exportación más importante. Por otro lado, como principales restricciones a la diversificación productiva y el crecimiento económico en el futuro, se identificaron los problemas de inseguridad que vive el estado, así como su significativa dependencia de la actividad maquiladora. Este último elemento resulta relevante podría llevar a sobre-estimar las capacidades productivas existentes y hacer a la entidad más vulnerable a pequeños cambios regulatorios, tecnológicos o de demanda.

Posteriormente se presentó una descripción de las estrategias de desarrollo económico actuales encabezadas por autoridades a diversos niveles. Para ello, se realizó un mapeo de la oferta de programas públicos productivos y los actores que intervienen en su diseño y ejecución en base al Plan de Desarrollo Estatal 2014-2019, los Planes Municipales de Tijuana (2017-2019) y Mexicali (2017-2019) la Ley de Desarrollo Económico del Estado, la Agenda de Innovación, el Sistema Estatal de Indicadores, y la información cualitativa recogida durante visitas a la entidad. Esta revisión sistemática puso de relieve que el diseño de las estrategias de desarrollo económico ha contemplado, en su mayoría, proyectos con alcance vertical y un foco en la provisión de diferentes clases de insumos públicos. Esto resulta positivo toda que son precisamente este tipo de políticas las que presentan un mayor potencial para reducir los problemas de coordinación entre el sector público y privado y, por tanto, resultar en aumentos en la productividad. Sin perjuicio de lo anterior, es posible identificar obstáculos que inhiben una implementación eficiente de las estrategias. En particular, la falta de un proceso consultivo y guiado para la asignación de estímulos y la inexistencia de mecanismos para recolectar información sobre los factores que puedan desalentar la llegada de inversiones.

How Not to Fight Income Inequality

November 14, 2018

Ricardo Hausmann - Project Syndicate

Trying to combat income inequality through mandated wage compression is not just an odd preference. It is a mistake, as Mexico's president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will find out in a few years, after much damage has been done.

Suppose two people hold different opinions about a policy issue. Is it possible to say that one is right and the other wrong, or do they just...

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Bahar, D., 2017. The Middle Productivity Trap: Dynamics of Productivity Dispersion.Abstract
Using a worldwide firm-level panel dataset I document a "U-shaped" relationship between productivity growth and baseline levels within each country and industry. That is, fast productivity growth is concentrated at both ends of the productivity distribution. This result
serves as a potential explanation to two stylized facts documented in the economic literature: the rising productivity dispersion within narrowly defined sectors, and the increasing market share of few yet highly productive firms.
Hausmann, R., Santos, M.A. & Obach, J., 2017. Appraising the Economic Potential of Panama: Policy Recommendations for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.Abstract

This report aims to summarize the main findings of the project as gathered by the three baseline documents, and frame them within a coherent set of policy recommendations that can help Panama to maintain their growth momentum in time and make it more inclusive. Three elements stand out as cornerstones of our proposal:

(i) attracting and retaining qualified human capital;

(ii) maximizing the diffusion of know-how and knowledge spillovers, and

(iii) leveraging on public-private dialog to tackle coordination problems that are hindering economic activity outside the Panama-Colón axis.

Coscia, M., Cheston, T. & Hausmann, R., 2017. Institutions vs. Social Interactions in Driving Economic Convergence: Evidence from Colombia.Abstract

Are regions poor because they have bad institutions or are they poor because they are disconnected from the social channels through which technology diffuses? This paper tests institutional and technological theories of economic convergence by looking at income convergence across Colombian municipalities. We use formal employment and wage data to estimate growth of income per capita at the municipal level. In Colombia, municipalities are organized into 32 departamentos or states. We use cellphone metadata to cluster municipalities into 32 communication clusters, defined as a set of municipalities that are densely connected through phone calls. We show that these two forms of grouping municipalities are very different. We study the effect on municipal income growth of the characteristics of both the state and the communication cluster to which the municipality belongs. We find that belonging to a richer communication cluster accelerates convergence, while belonging to a richer state does not. This result is robust to controlling for state fixed effects when studying the impact of communication clusters and vice versa. The results point to the importance of social interactions rather than formal institutions in the growth process.


Coscia, M., Hausmann, R. & Neffke, F., 2016. Exploring the Uncharted Export: An Analysis of Tourism-Related Foreign Expenditure with International Spend Data.Abstract

Tourism is one of the most important economic activities in the world: for many countries it represents the single largest product in their export basket. However, it is a product difficult to chart: "exporters" of tourism do not ship it abroad, but they welcome importers inside the country. Current research uses social accounting matrices and general equilibrium models, but the standard industry classifications they use make it hard to identify which domestic industries cater to foreign visitors. In this paper, we make use of open source data and of anonymized and aggregated transaction data giving us insights about the spend behavior of foreigners inside two countries, Colombia and the Netherlands, to inform our research. With this data, we are able to describe what constitutes the tourism sector, and to map the most attractive destinations for visitors. In particular, we find that countries might observe different geographical tourists' patterns - concentration versus decentralization -; we show the importance of distance, a country's reported wealth and cultural affinity in informing tourism; and we show the potential of combining open source data and anonymized and aggregated transaction data on foreign spend patterns in gaining insight as to the evolution of tourism from one year to another.