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.
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.

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.

Hausmann, R., et al., 2016. Towards a Prosperous and Productive Chiapas: Institutions, Policies, and Public-Private Dialog to Promote Inclusive Growth.Abstract

Since the Zapatista revolution of January 1994, enormous amount of resources coming from the federal government have poured over Chiapas. The gap in years and quality of education has been reduced significantly; and road, port and airport infrastructure have undergone a dramatic transformation. And yet, the income gap between Chiapas and the rest of Mexico has only widened. To understand why, a multi-disciplinary team of twelve experts have devoted significant time and resources to study different aspects of the development dynamic of Chiapas. As a result, 5 base documents have been published analyzing Chiapas:

- Complexity profile
- Growth Diagnostic
- Institutional Diagnostic
- Poverty profile
- Pilot of productive dialogs and inclusive growth in an indigenous community

This report resumes the findings from these and articulates their corresponding recommendations into a policy plan.

According to our hypothesis, Chiapas is wedged in a low productivity trap. A modern production system, responsible for productivity increases, income and development elsewhere in the world, requires a number of complementary inputs or capacities that are absent in Chiapas. As a result, its economy consists of a few primary products of little or no technological sophistication, and a vibrant service industry fueled by public expenditure in its larger cities. In this situation, there are no incentives to acquire additional education or skills because there is no demand for them in the economy. As we have proved, the few that manage to emigrate earn salaries elsewhere in Mexico slightly above other migrants with similar qualifications. As it turns out, it is not about the Chiapanecos, it is about Chiapas.

To overcome the current dilemmas and spark the engine of growth, Chiapas needs to resolve its issues of coordination, connectivity and gradually promote economic activities of higher complexity. Yazaki, one of the few manufacturers present in Chiapas, is an example of the role of the state in helping the economy to overcome the chicken-and-egg dilemmas, providing the public goods required - in an initial push – by a more complex economy. Our recommendations are based in identifying the productive capabilities embedded within the current productive structure of Chiapas four largest urban agglomerations, and leveraging on them to board on different potential, more complex industries that use a similar base of knowledge. To conquer those industries and diversify its economy, Chiapas needs a public-private agency empowered to iteratively solve the issues and bottlenecks these potential industries face in each particular place. Public transport and housing policy can be used as means to incorporating the surrounding communities into the increasingly modern economies of urban centers. Special economic zones and agro-industrial parks can be used to spur productivity in those areas where labor and appropriability are the most binding constrains.

chiapas_policy_recommendations_cidwp_317_english.pdf chiapas_recomendaciones_de_politica_cid_wp_317.pdf
España, L.P., Morales, J.R. & Barrios, D., 2016. Poverty, coverage of the Missions and social protection needs for the economic reform of Venezuela.Abstract

Even before the oil price crisis began in 2014, progress in reducing poverty in Venezuela had ceased and official figures showed that. According to the INE, between 2008 and 2013, the percentage of the population living in poverty remained almost the same, going from 33.1% to 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] We refer to the National Survey of Living Conditions (ENCOVI) conducted in 2014 and 2015 by the Andrés Bello Catholic University, the Simón Bolívar University and the Central de Venezuela. The results and report of the 2014 survey can be seen in: Zuñiga, Genny and González, Marino. A look at the social situation of the Venezuelan population. National Survey of Living Conditions. 2014 . IIES-UCAB. Caracas. 2015, The report of the 2015 survey is being prepared but the database is available at the Institute of Economic and Social Research of the UCAB.

Hausmann, R., et al., 2016. Towards a Prosperous and Productive Chiapas: Institutions, Policies and Public-Private Dialogue to Promote Inclusive Growth.Abstract

Since the Zapatista revolution of January 1994, Chiapas has received an enormous amount of resources from the federal government. The gaps in years of schooling between Chiapas and the rest of Mexico have been reduced, and numerous investments have been made that have improved road infrastructure, ports and airports. However, the gap that separates Chiapas from the rest of Mexico has been steadily widening. A multidisciplinary team of twelve experts has dedicated itself to studying different aspects of the productive, political and social dynamics of Chiapas. From there, five base documents have emerged: Institutional Diagnosis, Economic Complexity, Growth Diagnosis, Poverty Profile and a pilot of productive dialogue carried out in an indigenous community in Chiapas.

Our hypothesis is that Chiapas is in a low productivity trap. Modern production methods, closely linked to the growth and development process, require a set of complementary inputs that are absent in most of the territory of Chiapas. Thus, there are no incentives to acquire new knowledge that could be used in industries that do not exist. This inability to solve coordination problems and provide the inputs required by modern production has caused a good part of the social investment that has been poured into the entity to be wasted.

To overcome the current dilemma and ignite the spark of growth, Chiapas needs to solve its problems of coordination, connectivity, and gradually promote greater complexity. Our recommendations are based on taking advantage of the agglomerations of knowledge that already exist in the main urban centers of Chiapas, to address new productive sectors with greater added value and complexity. To overcome this challenge, it is necessary to create a public-private structure that iteratively solves the problems of coordination and provision of public goods that these high-potential sectors require. Public transport systems and housing policy are mechanisms to integrate the population surrounding urban centers to the new productive dynamics.

chiapas_recomendaciones_de_politica_cid_wp_317.pdf Abstract (English) chiapas_policy_recommendations_cidwp_317_english.pdf
Hausmann, R., 2015. What Should We Do About Inequality?.
Santos, M.A., et al., 2015. Pilot of Inclusive Growth in indigenous communities of Chiapas (Cruztón, Chamula).Abstract

The Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development, the Los Grobo Foundation, and the School of Senior Management and Business Administration of Barcelona (EADA), with the support of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit of the Government of Mexico, have partnered to conduct an exploration of the productive attitudes and skills of the indigenous communities of Chiapas. Given the high degree of dispersion of these communities, we have decided to select a pilot location, relatively close to urban areas, and implement the methodology of the Empower Communities program developed by the Los Grobo Foundation there.

Our final objective is to increase the understanding of the social, political, cultural and productive complexity of the indigenous communities of Chiapas, using as a vehicle a methodology that promotes participatory diagnosis, identifies capacities and resources, in the process of designing a collective development plan. territorial. Through the pilot implementation of Empower Communities, the team seeks to create a knowledge base that allows us to strengthen our capacity to design and implement development policies in indigenous communities with a productive aspect, as a complement to the social assistance policies that predominate in the place.