Publications

2018
Agents of Structural Change: The Role of Firms and Entrepreneurs in Regional Diversification
Neffke, F., et al., 2018. Agents of Structural Change: The Role of Firms and Entrepreneurs in Regional Diversification. Economic Geography , pp. 1-26. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Who introduces structural change in regional economies: Entrepreneurs or existing firms? And do local or nonlocal establishment founders create most novelty in a region? We develop a theoretical framework that focuses on the roles different agents play in regional transformation. We then apply this framework, using Swedish matched employer–employee data, to determine how novel the activities of new establishments are to a region. Incumbents mainly reinforce a region’s current specialization: incumbent’s growth, decline, and industry switching further align them with the rest of the local economy. The unrelated diversification required for structural change mostly originates via new establishments, especially via those with nonlocal roots. Interestingly, although entrepreneurs often introduce novel activities to a local economy, when they do so, their ventures have higher failure rates compared to new subsidiaries of existing firms. Consequently, new subsidiaries manage to create longer-lasting change in regions.
Venezuela: Public Debate and the Management of Oil Resources and Revenues
Villasmil, R., 2018. Venezuela: Public Debate and the Management of Oil Resources and Revenues. In Public Brainpower. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, pp. 347-367. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Although Venezuela’s experience since the 1980s would seem to make it a classic example of the resource curse, that perspective fails to explain the country’s impressive economic, social and institutional performance—including healthy public debate—during the first five decades after oil was first produced on a large scale. This chapter takes a long view of the Venezuelan experience and argues that this initial performance was lengthy and positive but fragile, given the incapacity of the country’s institutions to adapt to the different environment that developed afterwards, characterized by high oil price volatility and significant and sudden declines in oil revenues. The prolonged initial period of equilibrium became a curse of sorts. Lacking adaptive efficiency, political institutions were forced to rely increasingly on maintaining an illusion of harmony, and as faltering performance became evident, Venezuelans began questioning the model and its hegemonic arrangements. The scope and magnitude of the economic, social and institutional devastation that followed were such that public debate became one the first casualties. One of the main problems in contemporary Venezuela is the polarization of politics. This makes it difficult for the country’s population to arrive at reasonable solutions through public discussion.
venezuela_public_debate_villasmil.pdf
2017
Klissurski, G. & Zuccolo, B., 2017. Diversification in the Industrial Sector of Albania: Identifying Strategic Areas, Center for International Development.Abstract

In this study, we analyzed Albania’s industrial exports using the frameworks of the Product Space and Economic Complexity in order to determine which products Albania could diversify into in the near future. In particular, we identified groups of products that are technologically close to those which Albania already exports and which at the same time are technologically more sophisticated (more complex) than Albania’s average exports. This analysis does not suggest that products that do not fulfill the criteria of technological proximity and product complexity should not be invested in. However, it suggests that some products may have higher chances of succeeding in Albania because of its existing technological capabilities, while also bringing about diversification towards more complex, higher value-added production.

We find that the top two sectors that satisfy the criteria of being in close proximity to the existing technological capabilities in Albania, while also having relatively highly complex products, are Plastics/Rubbers and Agriculture/Foodstuffs. Within each of these sectors, we list more specific products that make for good candidates for diversification.

albania_diversification_report.pdf
Inter-industry Labor Flows
Neffke, F., Otto, A. & Weyh, A., 2017. Inter-industry Labor Flows. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization , 142 (October) , pp. 275-292. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Using German social security data, we study inter-industry labor mobility to assess how industry-specific human capital is and to determine which industries have similar human capital requirements. We find that inter-industry labor flows are highly concentrated in just a handful of industry pairs. Consequently, labor flows connect industries in a sparse network. We interpret this network as an expression of industries similarities in human capital requirements, or skill relatedness. This skill-relatedness network is stable over time, similar for different types of workers and independent of whether workers switch jobs locally or over larger distances. Moreover, in an application to regional diversification and local industry growth, skill relatedness proves to be more predictive than colocation or value chain relations. To facilitate future research, we make detailed inter-industry relatedness matrices online available.

    inter_industry_labor_jebo.pdf
    What is different about urbanization in rich and poor countries? Cities in Brazil, China, India and the United States
    Chauvin, J.P., et al., 2017. What is different about urbanization in rich and poor countries? Cities in Brazil, China, India and the United States. Journal of Urban Economics , 98 (March 2017) , pp. 17-49. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Are the well-known facts about urbanization in the United States also true for the developing world? We compare American metropolitan areas with analogous geographic units in Brazil, China and India. Both Gibrat’s Law and Zipf’s Law seem to hold as well in Brazil as in the U.S., but China and India look quite different. In Brazil and China, the implications of the spatial equilibrium hypothesis, the central organizing idea of urban economics, are not rejected. The India data, however, repeatedly rejects tests inspired by the spatial equilibrium assumption. One hypothesis is that spatial equilibrium only emerges with economic development, as markets replace social relationships and as human capital spreads more widely. In all four countries there is strong evidence of agglomeration economies and human capital externalities. The correlation between density and earnings is stronger in both China and India than in the U.S., strongest in China. In India the gap between urban and rural wages is huge, but the correlation between city size and earnings is more modest. The cross-sectional relationship between area-level skills and both earnings and area-level growth are also stronger in the developing world than in the U.S. The forces that drive urban success seem similar in the rich and poor world, even if limited migration and difficult housing markets make it harder for a spatial equilibrium to develop.
    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.
    productivitygaps_cidrfwp87.pdf
    Bahar, D., et al., 2017. The Birth and Growth of New Export Clusters: Which Mechanisms Drive Diversification?.Abstract
    Export diversification is associated with economic growth and development. Our paper explores competing mechanisms that mediate the emergence and growth of export products based on their economic relatedness to pre-existing exports. Our innovation is to simultaneously consider supply factors like labor, sourcing and technology; as well as demand factors like industry specific customer-linkages in a global setting. We find that, while technology and workforce similarity explain emergence and growth, pre-existing downstream industries remain a robust predictor of diversification, especially for jump starting new exports in developing countries. Our global stylized fact generalizes Javorcik’s (2004) view that spillovers are more likely in backward linkages.
    clusters_cidrfwp_86.pdf
    Bahar, D., 2017. The Hardships of Long Distance Relationships: Knowledge Transmission and the Ease of Communication within Multinational Firms.Abstract
    Using a unique dataset on worldwide multinational corporations with precise location of headquarters and affiliates, I present evidence suggesting that when firms expand internationally, they tend to locate foreign subsidiaries geographically closer to the headquarters the more knowledge intensive the affiliates’ economic activities are. This tradeoff, however, weakens when controlling for the ease of communication between the headquarters and its foreign subsidiary, such as being in the same time zone. All the evidence points that the intra-firm transmission of knowledge plays an important role in the mechanisms of the proximity-concentration hypothesis.
    knowledge_firms_cidrfwp_85.pdf
    Frankel, J., 2017. How to Cope with Volatile Commodity Export Prices: Four Proposals.Abstract

    Countries that specialize in commodities have in recent years been hit by high volatility in world prices for their exports. This paper suggests four ways that commodity-exporters can make themselves less vulnerable.

    (1) Option contracts can be used to hedge against short-term declines in the commodity price without giving up the upside, as Mexico has shown.

    (2) Commodity-linked bonds can hedge longer-term risk, and often have a natural ultimate counter-party in multinational corporations that depend on the commodity as an input.

    (3) The well-documented pro-cyclicality of fiscal policy among commodity exporters can be reduced by insulating official forecasters against an optimism bias, as Chile has shown.

    (4) Monetary policy can be made automatically more counter-cyclical, judged by the criterion of currency appreciation in reaction to positive terms-of-trade shocks, under either of two regimes:   peggers can add the export commodity to a currency basket (CCB, for “Currency-plus-Commodity Basket”) and others can target Nominal Income instead of the CPI.

    export_prices_cidwp335.pdf
    Halff, A., et al., 2017. Apocalypse Now: Venezuela, Oil and Reconstruction, Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Venezuela is at a breaking point. The political, economic, financial, social and humanitarian crisis that has gripped the country is intensifying. This unsustainable situation raises several urgent questions: Which path will the embattled OPEC country take out of the current turmoil? What type of political transition lies ahead? What short-term and long-term impact will the crisis have on its ailing oil industry, economy and bond debt? What would be the best and most effective prescription for oil and economic recovery under a new governance regime? To discuss these matters, the Center on Global Energy Policy brought together on June 19, 2017 a group of about 45 experts, including oil industry executives, investment bankers, economists and political scientists from leading think tanks and universities, consultants, and multilateral organization representatives. This note provides some of the highlights from that roundtable discussion, which was held under the Chatham House rule.

    CGED_apocalypse_now_venezuela_oil_reconstruction7_17_1.pdf
    Patt, A., et al., 2017. International Emigrant Selection on Occupational Skills.Abstract
    We present the first evidence that international emigrant selection on education and earnings materializes through occupational skills. Combining novel data from a representative Mexican task survey with rich individual-level worker data, we find that Mexican migrants to the United States have higher manual skills and lower cognitive skills than non-migrants. Conditional on occupational skills, education and earnings no longer predict migration decisions. Differential labor-market returns to occupational skills explain the observed selection pattern and significantly outperform previously used returns-to-skills measures in predicting migration. Results are persistent over time and hold within narrowly defined regional, sectoral, and occupational labor markets.
    emigrant_selection_cidwp84.pdf
    Sanctions and Export Deflection: Evidence from Iran
    Haidar, J.I., 2017. Sanctions and Export Deflection: Evidence from Iran. Economic Policy , 32 (90) , pp. 319–355. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Do export sanctions cause export deflection? Data on Iranian non-oil exporters between January 2006 and June 2011 shows that two-thirds of these exports were deflected to non-sanctioning countries after sanctions were imposed in 2008, and that at this time aggregate exports actually increased. Exporting firms reduced prices and increased quantities when exporting to a new destination, however, and suffered welfare losses as a result.
    economic_policy_haider_april_2017.pdf
    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.

    panama_policy_wp_334.pdf
    Bahar, D., Molina, C.A. & Santos, M.A., 2017. Fool’s Gold: Currency Devaluations and Stock Prices of Multinational Companies Operating in Venezuela.Abstract

    Devaluations may have an impact on multinational stock prices depending on the size of the country and whether they are anticipated or not. In an efficient market, predictable devaluations on small countries should not impact stock prices of large multinational companies. We analyze cumulative abnormal returns (CAR) to five devaluations in Venezuela within the context of stiff exchange controls. Our event study covers five years and uses daily stock prices for 110 multinationals with Venezuelan subsidiaries. We find evidence of significant negative cumulative abnormal returns on stock prices on three devaluations, reaching up to 2.10% over the event window. We interpret these results as evidence of market myopia, as they are driven by financial statements being converted into dollars at highly overvalued official rates, despite subsidiaries not having access to dollars at these prices.

    devaluations_ven_cidrfwp83.pdf
    Marrazzo, P.M. & Terzi, A., 2017. Wide-reaching Structural Reforms and Growth: A Cross-country Synthetic Control Approach.Abstract

    At a time of slow growth in several advanced and emerging countries, calls for more structural reforms are multiplying. However, estimations of the short- and medium-term impact of these reforms on GDP growth remain methodologically problematic and still highly controversial. We contribute to this literature by making a novel use of the non-parametric Synthetic Control Method to estimate the impact of 23 wide-reaching structural reform packages (including both real and financial sector measures) rolled out in 22 countries between 1961 and 2000. Our results suggest that, on average, reforms started having a significant positive effect on GDP per capita only after five years. Ten years after the beginning of a reform wave, GDP per capita was roughly 6 percentage points higher than the synthetic counterfactual scenario. However, average point estimates mask a large heterogeneity of outcomes. Benefits tended to materialise earlier, but overall to be more limited, in advanced economies than in emerging markets. These results are confirmed when we use a parametric dynamic panel fixed effect model to control for the rich dynamics of GDP, and are robust to a variety of alternative specifications, placebo and falsification tests, and to different indicators of reform. 

    cid_rfwp_82.pdf
    O'Brien, T., Nedelkoska, L. & Frasheri, E., 2017. What is the Binding Constraint to Growth in Albania?, Center for International Development at Harvard University.Abstract

    About four years ago, at the onset of CID’s engagement in Albania, the country faced two issues that were threatening its macro-fiscal stability: a skyrocketing public debt and an insolvent, publicly-owned electricity distribution system that was plagued by theft and technical inefficiency. These two interlinked issues constrained both short-term economic growth and the ability of the country to develop new drivers of long-term growth. Over the subsequent years, the government was able to successfully respond to these constraints through a now-concluded IMF program and through a series of reforms in the electricity sector. With these constraints now relaxed, CID saw the need for a new analysis of the current and emerging constraints to growth in Albania. This analysis will guide future research and inform the government and non-government actors on emerging economic issues for prioritization.

    While growth has accelerated over the last several years, to over 3% in 2016, this is not a pace that will allow for a rapid convergence of incomes and well-being in Albania with that of developed countries in Europe and elsewhere. This growth diagnostic attempts to identify the binding constraint to sustainably higher economic growth in Albania.

    Recognizing that economic growth requires a number of complementary inputs, from roads to human capital to access to finance and many more, this report compares across eight potentially binding constraints using the growth diagnostic methodology to identify which constraint is most binding. This research was conducted throughout 2016, building on prior research conducted by CID and other organizations in Albania. Each constraint discussed in this report is cited by analysts within or outside the country as the biggest problem for growth in Albania. Through the growth diagnostic framework, we are able to evaluate the evidence and show that some constraints are more binding than others.

    Despite serious issues in many other areas, we find that the binding constraint to stronger growth in Albania is a lack of productive knowhow. By “knowhow,” we mean the knowledge and skills needed to produce complex goods and services. Albania faces a unique knowhow constraint that is deeply rooted in its closed-off past, and the limited diversification that has taken place in the private sector can, in nearly all cases, be linked to distinct inflows of knowhow. The strongest sources of knowhow inflows into Albania have been through foreign direct investment and immigration, especially returning members of the diaspora who start new businesses or upgrade the productivity of existing businesses.

    The evidence also points to particular failings in rule of law in Albania that play an important role in keeping Albania in a low-knowhow equilibrium. Weaknesses in Albania’s rule of law institutions, including frequent policy reversals and corruption in the bureaucracy and judiciary, increase the risk of investments and transaction costs of business. While it is difficult to separate perceptions from reality in this area, both perceptions of weak rule of law and actual rule of law failings appear to play critical roles in constraining more diversified investment in Albania. We find that while existing firms in Albania successfully navigate the rule of law weaknesses, and in some cases benefit from the system, potential new investors are acutely sensitive to rule of law issues.

     

    alb_growth_diagnostic_report.pdf
    Frankel, J.A., 2017. The Currency-Plus-Commodity Basket: A Proposal for Exchange Rates in Oil-Exporting Countries to Accommodate Trade Shocks Automatically.Abstract

    The paper proposes an exchange rate regime for oil-exporting countries. The goal is to achieve the best of both flexible and fixed exchange rates. The arrangement is designed to deliver monetary policy that counteracts rather than exacerbates the effects of swings in the oil market, while yet offering the day-to-day transparency and predictability of a currency peg. The proposal is to peg the national currency to a basket, but a basket that includes not only the currencies of major trading partners (in particular, the dollar and the euro), but also the export commodity (oil). The plan is called Currency-plus-Commodity Basket (CCB). The paper begins by fleshing out the need for an innovative arrangement that allows accommodation to trade shocks. The analysis provides evidence from six Gulf countries that periods when their currencies were “undervalued”, in the sense that the actual foreign exchange value lay below what it would have been under the CCB proposal, were periods of overheating as reflected in high inflation and of external imbalance as reflected in high balance of payments surpluses. Conversely, periods when the currencies were “overvalued,” in the sense that their foreign exchange value lay above what it would have been under CCB, featured unusually low inflation and low balance of payments. These results are suggestive of the implication that the economy would have been more stable under CCB. The last section of the paper offers a practical blueprint for detailed implementation of the proposal.

    wp_333.pdf
    Haidar, J.I., 2017. Sanctions and Export Deflection: Evidence from Iran.Abstract

    Do export sanctions cause export deflection? Data on Iranian non-oil exporters between January 2006 and June 2011 shows that two-thirds of these exports were deflected to non-sanctioning countries after sanctions were imposed in 2008, and that at this time aggregate exports actually increased. Exporting firms reduced prices and increased quantities when exporting to a new destination, however, and suffered welfare losses as a result.

    working-paper-80.pdf
    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.

     

    colombia_convergence_cidwp_331.pdf
    Hausmann, R. & Nedelkoska, L., 2017. Welcome Home in a Crisis: Effects of Return Migration on the Non-migrants' Wages and Employment.Abstract

    The recent economic depression in Greece hit the population of Albanian migrants in Greece particularly hard, spurring a wave of return migration which increased the Albanian labor force by 5 percent in less than four years, between 2011 and 2014. We study how this return migration affected the employment chances and earnings of Albanians who never migrated. We find positive effects on the wages of low-skilled non-migrants and overall positive effects on employment. The gains partially offset the sharp drop in remittances in the observed period. An important part of the employment gains are concentrated in the agricultural sector, where most return migrants engage in self-employment and entrepreneurship. Businesses run by return migrants seem to pull Albanians from non-participation, unemployment and subsistence agriculture into commercial agriculture. 

    return_migration_cidwp_330.pdf

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