Fellow Working Papers

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.
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.

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. 

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.

Neffke, F., 2017. Coworker complementarity.Abstract

How important is working with people who complement one's skills? Using administrative data that record which of 491 educational tracks each worker in Sweden absolved, I quantify the educational fit among coworkers along two dimensions: coworker match and coworker substitutability. Complementary coworkers raise wages with a comparable factor as does a college degree, whereas working with close substitutes is associated with wage penalties. Moreover, this coworker fit does not only account for large portions of the urban and large-plant wage premiums, but the returns to own schooling and the urban wage premium are almost completely contingent on finding complementary coworkers.

Diwan, I. & Haidar, J.I., 2016. Do Political Connections Reduce Job Creation? Evidence from Lebanon.Abstract
Using firm-level census data, we determine how politically-connected firms (PCFs) reduce job creation in Lebanon. After observing that large firms account for the bulk of net job creation, we find that PCFs are larger and create more jobs, but are also less productive, than non-PCFs in their sectors. On a net basis, at the sector-level, each additional PCF reduces jobs created by 7.2% and jobs created by non-PCFs by 11.3%. These findings support the notion that politically-connected firms are used for clientelistic purposes in Lebanon, exchanging privileges for jobs that benefit their patrons’ supporters.
Frasheri, E., 2016. Of Knights and Squires: European Union and the Modernization of Albania.Abstract

In this paper, I question the idea that a country develops and democratizes merely by pursuing a model of deeper regional integration with more prosperous countries. I examine the case of Albania’s integration into the European Union to show that more often than not, transition reproduces hierarchies and inequities that usually underpin relations between a prosperous center and a backward periphery. Instead of being a cure, a solution to the political primitivism and underdevelopment, the story with Europeanization as a model of modernization suggests that despite noble intentions and goals, reforms in the name of the European Union end up foregrounding a security state apparatus, impose an ideological hegemony, and maintain a political culture that inhibits democratization, while discouraging and displacing the need for endogenous growth strategies.


This paper is published in the North Carolina Journal of International Law (Volume 42, Issue 1) 

O'Clery, N., Gomez-Lievano, A. & Lora, E., 2016. The Path to Labor Formality: Urban Agglomeration and the Emergence of Complex Industries.Abstract

Labor informality, associated with low productivity and lack of access to social security services, dogs developing countries around the world. Rates of labor (in)formality, however, vary widely within countries. This paper presents a new stylized fact, namely the systematic positive relationship between the rate of labor formality and the working age population in cities. We hypothesize that this phenomenon occurs through the emergence of complex economic activities: as cities become larger, labor is allocated into increasingly complex industries as firms combine complementary capabilities derived from a more diverse pool of workers. Using data from Colombia, we use a network-based model to show that the technological proximity (derived from worker transitions between industry pairs) of current industries in a city to potential new complex industries governs the growth of the formal sector in the city. The mechanism proposed has robust strong predictive power, and fares better than alternative explanations of (in)formality.

O'Clery, N. & Lora, E., 2016. City Size, Distance and Formal Employment.Abstract

Cities thrive through the diversity of their occupants because the availability of complementary skills enables firms in the formal sector to grow, delivering increasingly sophisticated products and services. The appearance of new industries is path dependent in that new economic activities build on existing strengths, leading cities to both diversify and specialize in distinct areas. Hence, the location of necessary capabilities, and in particular the distance between firms and people with the skills they need, is key to the success of urban agglomerations. Using data for Colombia, this paper assesses the extent to which cities benefit from skills and capabilities available in their surrounding catchment areas. Without assuming a prioria a definition for cities, we sequentially agglomerate the 96 urban municipalities larger than 50,000 people based on commuting time. We show that a level of agglomeration equivalent to between 45 and 75 minutes of commuting time, corresponding to between 62 and 43 cities, maximizes the impact that the availability of skills has on the ability of agglomerations to generate formal employment. Smaller urban municipalities stand to gain more in the process of agglomeration. A range of policy implications are discussed.

Diodato, D., Neffke, F. & O'Clery, N., 2016. Agglomeration Economies: The Heterogeneous Contribution of Human Capital and Value Chains.Abstract

We document the heterogeneity across sectors in the impact labor and input-output links have on industry agglomeration. Exploiting the available degrees of freedom in coagglomeration patterns, we estimate the industry-specic benefits of sharing labor needs and supply links with local firms. On aggregate, coagglomeration patterns of services are at least as strongly driven by input-output linkages as those of manufacturing, whereas labor linkages are much more potent drivers of coagglomeration in services than in manufacturing. Moreover, the degree to which labor and input-output linkages are reflected in an industry's coagglomeration patterns is relevant for predicting patterns of city-industry employment growth.

España, L.P., Morales, J.R. & Barrios, D., 2016. Pobreza, cobertura de las Misiones y necesidades de protección social para la reforma económica de Venezuela.Abstract

Incluso antes de que se iniciara la crisis de los precios petroleros en 2014, los avances en la reducción de la pobreza en Venezuela habían cesado y así lo demostraban las cifras oficiales. Según el INE entre 2008 y 2013 el porcentaje de la población en situación de pobreza se había mantenido casi igual al pasar de 33,1% a 34,2%.

Estas son las últimas cifras oficiales de pobreza de ingreso que disponemos ya que la última contabilización oficial de porcentaje de población en situación de pobreza es la del segundo semestre de 2013[1]. A partir de ese momento la descripción social de la pobreza en Venezuela ha dependido de estudios independientes realizados entre otros, por un consorcio de varias universidades del país[2] que dan cuenta de la evolución de la pobreza entre 2014 y 2015 (ENCOVI, 2014 y 2015), años donde se precipitaron los precios del petróleo hasta un tercio de lo que llegaron a ser durante 2008 acelerando un proceso de deterioro en los indicadores de desempeño económico y bienestar del hogar.

Según estas fuentes independientes de información la pobreza de ingresos en Venezuela habría llegado hasta un 55% en 2014 y 76% en 2015. Cifras que por sí solas hablan de la necesidad diseñar un plan de reformas económicas y sociales para hacerle frente al impacto social de la caída de los precios del petróleo, así como al conjunto de factores, más allá de los precios del crudo, que han llevado al país a tres años continuos de recesión y aumento de la pobreza.

En atención a lo anterior, el presente trabajo se enmarca dentro del conjunto de ejercicios de investigación que son necesarios para poder diseñar un programa de estabilización económica y su correspondiente plan de protección social. En ese sentido, en lo que sigue trataremos de dimensionar el número de familias que necesitarían formar parte de este potencial plan de protección social.

Para ello nos valdremos como fuente de información de la ENCOVI 2014 y 2015, encuestas desde las cuales no sólo tenemos información para contabilizar los hogares e individuos en estado de necesidad, sino además las coberturas probables de los programas sociales (Misiones) que actualmente implementa el gobierno de Venezuela, para de esta forma estimar; en primer lugar, las familias en situación de pobreza que reciben beneficios sociales; en segundo lugar las que estando en esa condición de pobreza no los reciben y; por último, y con miras a la reforma de los programas y la introducción de elementos de progresividad distributiva, los beneficiarios que aún sin ser población objetivo, por no estar en situación de pobreza, son receptores de transferencias, pensiones o becas por parte del Estado.

Adicionalmente a lo anterior, las políticas de control de cambio y la regulación de los precios, aunado a los problemas de abastecimiento, han hecho que los precios de los bienes a los que tienen acceso los distintos grupos sociales varían según si se adquieren en los mercados controlados o en los informales. Estos diferenciales de precios son muy importantes y están generando impactos distributivos difíciles de estimar, pero fundamentales para entender las necesidades de protección social que requieren los hogares para cubrir la canasta de productos básicos.

Es por ello que este trabajo también se propone describir a muy alto nivel los problemas distributivos generados por los diferenciales de precios. Si bien probablemente no sea posible llegar a conclusiones definitivas, al menos plantearemos lo relevante del tema para entender como la escasez de productos y las regulaciones de precios han introducido un conjunto de distorsiones en los precios y en el acceso a los bienes esenciales y presentaremos algunos de los dilemas y preguntas que estas distorsiones generan al momento de analizar la capacidad de satisfacer necesidades básicas en Venezuela.

[1] En Agosto de 2016, el Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) publicó estadísticas sobre el porcentaje de hogares en situación de pobreza por primera vez desde el año 2013. La serie fue actualizada para incluir los datos de 2014 y el primer semestre de 2015. Para el primer semestre de 2014 la cifra de hogares en situación de pobreza por ingreso alcanzó 29,5%, para el segundo semestre de ese año llegó a 32,6% y finalmente para el primer semestre de 2015 33,1% de los hogares se encontraban en situación de pobreza por ingresos. Sin embargo, el INE no ha hecho públicas ni el valor de Canasta Alimentaria Normativa para 2015, ni las Encuestas de Hogares que sustentan este cálculo ni las cifras de pobreza por ingreso como porcentaje de la población.

[2] Nos referimos a la Encuesta Nacional de Condiciones de Vida (ENCOVI) realizadas en 2014 y 2015 por la Universidad católica Andrés Bello, la Universidad Simón Bolívar y la Central de Venezuela. Los resultados e informe de la encuesta 2014 pueden verse en: Zuñiga, Genny y González, Marino. Una mirada a la situación social de la población venezolana. Encuesta Nacional de Condiciones de Vida. 2014. IIES-UCAB. Caracas. 2015, El informe de la encuesta del 2015 está en elaboración pero la base de datos está disponible en el Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales de la UCAB.

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.

Neffke, F., Otto, A. & Weyh, A., 2016. Inter-industry Labor Flows.Abstract

Labor flows across industries reallocate resources and diffuse knowledge among economic activities. However, surprisingly little is known about the structure of such inter-industry flows. How freely do workers switch jobs among industries? Between which pairs of industries do we observe such switches? Do different types of workers have different transition matrices? Do these matrices change over time?

Using German social security data, we generate stylized facts about inter-industry labor mobility and explore its consequences. We find that workers switch industries along tight paths that link industries in a sparse network. This labor-flow network is relatively stable over time, similar for workers in different occupations and wage categories and independent of whether workers move locally or over larger distances. When using these networks to construct inter-industry relatedness measures they prove better predictors of local industry growth rates than co-location or input-based alternatives. However, because industries that exchange much labor typically do not have correlated growth paths, the sparseness of the labor-flow network does not necessarily prevent a smooth reallocation of workers from shrinking to growing industries. To facilitate future research, the inter-industry relatedness matrices we develop are made available as an online appendix to this paper.

Neffke, F., Otto, A. & Hidalgo, C., 2016. The Mobility of Displaced Workers: How the Local Industry Mix Affects Job Search Strategies.Abstract

Establishment closures leave many workers unemployed. Based on employment histories of 20 million German workers, we find that workers often cope with their displacement by moving to different regions and industries. However, which of these coping strategies is chosen depends on the local industry mix. A large local presence of predisplacement or related industries strongly reduces the rate at which workers leave the region. Moreover, our findings suggest that a large local presence of the predisplacement industry induces workers to shift search efforts toward this industry, reducing the spatial scope of search for jobs in alternative industries and vice versa.

Janssen, M., 2016. What Bangs for Your Bucks? Assessing the Design and Impact of Transformative Policy.Abstract

After an era of generic support for economic development and innovation, narrowly targeted transformation policy is back on the table. Recent advances in the fields of new industrial policy and transition thinking converge on the idea that achieving structural change requires governments to take an active role in overcoming inertia. Rather than just leveraging R&D investments and setting framework conditions, policy makers are urged to participate in the development of socio-economic systems around particular technologies. Associated policy support typically involves a diverse portfolio of system-specific interventions.

The emergence of transformative policy, in this paper characterized by being selective, process-oriented and multi-instrumental, poses severe challenges to rising standards of public accountability. Evaluation methods for calculating the ‘bang for the buck’ of R&D-leveraging measures are ill-suited when policy mixes are supposed to enact economic transformation. We argue that, in order to see if aptly chosen policy design is bringing about actual change, assessments should gauge policy contributions to building up technological innovation systems (TIS). The TIS-literature provides a concrete but untapped basis for tracking how policy efforts affect conditions favoring the creation and diffusion of new economic activities. This premise leads us to introduce a scheme for structuring analyses concerned with (the links between) the organization, orientation and aggregate impact of transformative policy. We test it in a tentative assessment of the Dutch ‘Topsector approach’.

Besides facilitating continuous policy learning, our assessment scheme also serves to strengthen policy maker’s ability to legitimize the adoption of heterodox economic approaches.

Bahar, D. & Santos, M.A., 2016. Natural Resources and Export Concentration: On the Most Likely Casualties of Dutch Disease.Abstract

The literature on Dutch disease is extensive when it comes to documenting the negative impacts of natural resource exports on non-resource tradable goods as an aggregate. Little has been said on the impact of natural resources on non-resource export concentration, either from a broad perspective or at the product level.

We explore this relationship using a variety of non-resource export concentration indexes for the period 1985 - 2010. We find significant evidence indicating that countries with high share of natural resources in exports tend to have less diversified non-resource export baskets.

Furthermore, using highly disaggregated data at the product level we study what type of products are more likely to thrive or suffer in resource rich countries. We find that capital intensive goods tend to have larger shares on the non-resource export basket when natural resources are high.

We also find that homogeneous goods make for a larger share of the non-resource export basket the lower their technological sophistication. For differentiated goods the pattern is reversed: they tend to make for a larger share of the non-resource export basket, the higher they are in the technology scale.

Santos, M.A., 2015. The Right Fit for the Wrong Reasons: Real Business Cycle in an Oil-Dependent Economy.Abstract

Venezuela is an oil-dependent economy subject to large exogenous shocks, with a rigid labor market. These features go straight at the heart of two weaknesses of real business cycle (RBC) theory widely reported in the literature: Neither shocks are volatile enough nor real salaries are sufficiently flexible as required by the RBC framework to replicate the behavior of the economy. We calibrate a basic RBC model and compare a set of relevant statistics from RBC-simulated time series with actual data for Venezuela and the benchmark case of the United States (1950-2008). In spite of Venezuela being one of the most heavily intervened economies in the world, RBC-simulated series provide a surprisingly good fit when it comes to the non-oil sector of the economy, and in particular for labor markets. Large restrictions on dismissal and widespread minimum (nominal) wage put all the burden of adjustment on prices; which translate into highly volatile real wages.

Coscia, M., Neffke, F. & Lora, E., 2015. Report on the Poblacion Flotante of Bogota.Abstract

In this document we describe the size of the Poblacion Flotante of
Bogota (D.C.). The Poblacion Flotante is composed by people who live
outside Bogota (D.C.), but who rely on the city for performing their job.
We estimate the Poblacion Flotante impact relying on a new data source
provided by telecommunications operators in Colombia, which enables us
to estimate how many people commute daily from every municipality of
Colombia to a specic area of Bogota (D.C.). We estimate that the size of
the Poblacion Flotante could represent a 5.4% increase of Bogota (D.C.)'s
population. During weekdays, the commuters tend to visit the city center

Gomez-Lievano, A., Tellez, J. & Lora, E., 2015. New Insights About Wage Inequality in Colombia.Abstract

This paper presents a descriptive analysis of wage inequality in Colombia by cities and industries and attempts to evaluate the impact of the inequality of industries on inequality of cities. Using the 2010-2014 Colombian Social Security data, we calculate the gini coefficient for cities and industries and draw comparisons between their distributions. Our results show that while cities are unequal in similar ways, industries differ widely on how unequal they can be with ginis. Moreover, industrial structure plays a significant role to determine city inequality. Industrial framework proves to be a key element in this area for researches and policymakers.

Santos, M.A., et al., 2015. Piloto de Crecimiento Inclusivo en comunidades indígenas de Chiapas (Cruztón, Chamula).Abstract

El Centro para el Desarrollo Internacional de la Universidad de Harvard (CID), la Fundación Los Grobo, y la Escuela de Alta Dirección y Administración de Empresas de Barcelona (EADA), con el apoyo de la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público del Gobierno de México, se han asociado para conducir una exploración de las actitudes y aptitudes productivas de las comunidades indígenas de Chiapas. Dado el alto grado de dispersión de estas comunidades, hemos decidido seleccionar una localidad piloto, relativamente próxima a zonas urbanas, e implementar allí la metodología del programa Potenciar Comunidades desarrollada por la Fundación Los Grobo.

Nuestro objetivo final es incrementar la comprensión de la complejidad social, política, cultural y productiva de las comunidades indígenas de Chiapas, utilizando como vehículo una metodología que promueve el diagnóstico participativo, identifica capacidades y recursos, en el proceso de diseñar un plan colectivo de desarrollo territorial. A través de la implementación piloto de Potenciar Comunidades, el equipo busca crear una base de conocimiento que permita fortalecer nuestra capacidad para diseñar e implementar políticas de desarrollo en las comunidades indígenas con una vertiente productiva, como complemento a las políticas de asistencia social que predominan en el lugar.