Publications

2011
The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity
Hausmann, R., et al., 2011. The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity,Abstract

Over the past two centuries, mankind has accomplished what used to be unthinkable. When we look back at our long list of achievements, it is easy to focus on the most audacious of them, such as our conquest of the skies and the moon. Our lives, however, have been made easier and more prosperous by a large number of more modest, yet crucially important feats. Think of electric bulbs, telephones, cars, personal computers, antibiotics, TVs, refrigerators, watches and water heaters. Think of the many innovations that benefit us despite our minimal awareness of them, such as advances in port management, electric power distribution, agrochemicals and water purification. This progress was possible because we got smarter. During the past two centuries, the amount of productive knowledge we hold expanded dramatically. This was not, however, an individual phenomenon. It was a collective phenomenon. As individuals we are not much more capable than our ancestors, but as societies we have developed the ability to make all that we have mentioned – and much, much more.

For up-to-date datasets and new visualizations, visit atlas.cid.harvard.edu.

HarvardMIT_Atlas2011.pdf
The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy
Rodrik, D., 2011. The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy, W. W. Norton & Company. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Surveying three centuries of economic history, Dani Rodrik argues for a leaner global system that puts national democracies front and center. From the mercantile monopolies of seventeenth-century empires to the modern-day authority of the WTO, IMF, and World Bank, the nations of the world have struggled to effectively harness globalization's promise.  The economic narratives that underpinned these eras-the gold standard, the Bretton Woods regime, the "Washington Consensus"-brought great success and great failure.

In this eloquent challenge to the reigning wisdom on globalization, Dani Rodrik offers a new narrative, one that embraces an ineluctable tension: we cannot simultaneously pursue democracy, national self-determination, and economic globalization. When the social arrangements of democracies inevitably clash with the international demands of globalization, national priorities should take precedence. Combining history with insight, humor with good-natured critique, Rodrik's case for a customizable globalization supported by a light frame of international rules shows the way to a balanced prosperity as we confront today's global challenges in trade, finance, and labor markets.

The network structure of economic output
Hausmann, R. & Hidalgo, C.A., 2011. The network structure of economic output. Journal of Economic Growth. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Much of the analysis of economic growth has focused on the study of aggregate output. Here, we deviate from this tradition and look instead at the structure of output embodied in the network connecting countries to the products that they export. We characterize this network using four structural features: the negative relationship between the diversification of a country and the average ubiquity of its exports, and the non-normal distributions for product ubiquity, country diversification and product co-export. We model the structure of the network by assuming that products require a large number of non-tradable inputs, or capabilities, and that countries differ in the completeness of the set of capabilities they have. We solve the model assuming that the probability that a country has a capability and that a product requires a capability are constant and calibrate it to the data to find that it accounts well for all of the network features except for the heterogeneity in the distribution of country diversification. In the light of the model, this is evidence of a large heterogeneity in the distribution of capabilities across countries. Finally, we show that the model implies that the increase in diversification that is expected from the accumulation of a small number of capabilities is small for countries that have a few of them and large for those with many. This implies that the forces that help drive divergence in product diversity increase with the complexity of the global economy when capabilities travel poorly.

hausmannhidalgojoeg_2011.pdf
2010
Hausmann, R., Ganguli, I. & Viarengo, M., 2010. Marriage, Education, and Assortative Mating in Latin America.Abstract

In this paper we establish six stylized facts related to marriage and work in Latin America and present a simple model to account for them. First, skilled women are less likely to be married than unskilled women. Second, skilled women are less likely to be married than skilled men. Third, married skilled men are more likely to work than unmarried skilled men, but married skilled women are less likely to work than unmarried skilled women. Fourth, Latin American women are much more likely to marry a less skilled husband compared to women in other regions of the world. Five, when a skilled Latin American woman marries down, she is more likely to work than if she marries a more or equally educated man. Six, when a woman marries down, she tends to marry the “better” men in that these are men that earn higher wages than those explained by the other observable characteristics. We present a simple game theoretic model that explains these facts with a single assumption: Latin American men, but not women, assign a greater value to having a stay-home wife.

This research is part of the "Closing the Global Gender Gap: A Call to Action," an initiative sponsored by the Women and Public Policy Program in collaboration with the Center for International Development at Harvard University, with support from ExxonMobil's Educating Women and Girls Initiative and the Women's Leadership Board of the Harvard Kennedy School.

cid_facultywp_197_2010.pdf
Hausmann, R. & Klinger, B., 2010. Structural Transformation in Ecuador. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper applies new techniques and metrics to analyze Ecuador's past record of and future opportunities for structural transformation. Ecuador's export dynamics and the emergence of new export activities have been the historical drivers of the country's growth, but recently Ecuador's export basket has undergone little structural transformation. The same broad sectors continue to dominate, and the overall sophistication of the export basket has actually declined in recent years. In order to consider why movement to new, more sophisticated export activities has lagged in Ecuador, we examine export connectedness and find that the country is concentrated in a peripheral part of the product space. We quantitatively scan Ecuador's efficient frontier and identify new, high-potential export activities that are nearby in the product space. This sector evaluation provides valuable information for the government to prioritize dialogue and interventions, but it is not meant to be a conclusive identification of "winners". Rather, we provide policy guidelines to facilitate the emergence of these and other new export activities, dealing with the sector-specificity of much of what the government must provide to the private sector to succeed while at the same time avoiding the well-known perils of traditional industrial policies.
structural_transformation_in_ecuador.pdf
Diagnosing the Binding Constraints on Economic Growth (Belize)
Hausmann, R. & Klinger, B., 2010. Diagnosing the Binding Constraints on Economic Growth (Belize). In Towards a Sustainable and Efficient State: The Development Agenda of Belize. Washington, DC. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank, pp. 11-35. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Belize’s long-term growth performance has been comparatively good. It is not clear what comparator group is relevant, given Belize’s status as both a Caribbean and a Central American country. Compared with its Central American counterparts, Belize has been a growth star. In 1960, it was the second-poorest country in the region; now it is among the “top tier” countries, with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (Figure 1.1) near that of Costa Rica and Panama. Moreover, much of this growth was achieved after independence. Among its Caribbean peers, however, Belize’s performance has been average, and it has not been able to close the gap with the better-performing economies in the region. And since 2004, economic growth has been sluggish, barely above the rate of population growth, implying that reactivating economic growth is a central development challenge for the country.

the_development_agenda_of_belize.pdf
Export Diversification in Algeria
Hausmann, R., Klinger, B. & López-Cálix, J.R., 2010. Export Diversification in Algeria. In Trade Competitiveness of the Middle East and North Africa. Washington, DC. Washington, DC: The World Bank, pp. 63-101.Abstract

This chapter applies new methodologies to examine the history of and future opportunities for export diversification in Algeria. The first section examines Algeria’s productive structure, which is highly concentrated in the hydrocarbons sector. It shows that this pattern of specialization is inconsistent with the country’s endowment of hydrocarbon resources. The lack of export diversification is suggestive of an inefficient distortion, reversal of which should be a clear policy priority.

The second section reviews some of the traditional explanations for a lack of export diversification in an oil-exporting country and shows that these explanations do not seem to hold for Algeria. It offers an alternative explanation, based not on macroeconomic volatility or real exchange rate appreciation but on the specificity of productive capabilities in the oil sector and their substitutability to other activities. This explanation underlies the notion of a “product space,” in which structural transformation occurs.

The third section introduces a new methodology to export diversification in Algeria, which is shown to be specialized in a highly peripheral part of the product space. Even activities that compose the non-oil export basket are highly peripheral in the product space, which helps explain the severe lack of export diversification.

The fourth section applies product space data to Algeria’s industrial strategy, using the methodology to identify high-potential export sectors. This data-driven approach has the benefit of systematically scanning the entire set of potential export goods using an empirically validated methodology. It complements other more qualitative and contextual approaches. This section uses the same methodology to review the sectors already identified by the Algerian government in the new industrial policy.

The last section discusses the policy implications of this analysis. A wide variety of methodologies can be used to generate lists of high potential export sectors; more difficult is determining what to do with such lists. The section offers a few specific policy recommendations and discusses some best practices. But the fact that most required public goods and constraints to investment are sector specific means that recommendations cannot be made at the macro level.

tradecompetitiveness_in_mena.pdf
Hausmann, R. & Hidalgo, C.A., 2010. Country diversification, product ubiquity, and economic divergence.Abstract

Countries differ markedly in the diversification of their exports. Products differ in the number of countries that export them, which we define as their ubiquity. We document a new stylized fact in the global pattern of exports: there is a systematic relationship between the diversification of a country’s exports and the ubiquity of its products. We argue that this fact is not implied by current theories of international trade and show that it is not a trivial consequence of the heterogeneity in the level of diversification of countries or of the heterogeneity in the ubiquity of products. We account for this stylized fact by constructing a simple model that assumes that each product requires a potentially large number of non-tradable inputs, which we call capabilities, and that a country can only make the products for which it has all the requisite capabilities. Products differ in the number and specific nature of the capabilities they require, as countries differ in the number/nature of capabilities they have. Products that require more capabilities will be accessible to fewer countries (i.e., will be less ubiquitous), while countries that have more capabilities will have what is required to make more products (i.e., will be more diversified). Our model implies that the return to the accumulation of new capabilities increases exponentially with the number of capabilities already available in a country. Moreover, we find that the convexity of the increase in diversification associated with the accumulation of a new capability increases when either the total number of capabilities that exist in the world increases or the average complexity of products, defined as the number of capabilities products require, increases. This convexity defines what we term as aquiescence trap, or a trap of economic stasis: countries with few capabilities will have negligible or no return to the accumulation of more capabilities, while at the same time countries with many capabilities will experience large returns - in terms of increased diversification - to the accumulation of additional capabilities. We calibrate the model to three different sets of empirical data and show that the derived functional forms reproduce the empirically observed distributions of product ubiquity, the relationship between the diversification of countries and the average ubiquity of the products they export, and the distribution of the probability that two products are co-exported. This calibration suggests that the global economy is composed of a relatively large number of capabilities – between 23 and 80, depending on the level of disaggregation of the data – and that products require on average a relatively large fraction of these capabilities in order to be produced. The conclusion of this calibration is that the world exists in a regime where the quiescence trap is strong.

201.pdf
Rodrik, D. & Rosenzweig, M.R., 2010. Development Policy and Development Economics: An Introduction. Handbook of Development Economics , 5 , pp. 4039-5061. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Anyone who undertakes to produce a volume of surveys in economic development must confront the question: Does the world really need another one? The field changes over time and, one hopes, knowledge accumulates. So, one motive is the desire to cover the more recent advances. And indeed, economic development has been one of the most dynamic and innovative fields within economics in recent years. While one primary goal is to inform policy makers, it also hoped that the volume will assist scholars in designing research agendas that are informed by policy questions, in particular, by the gaps in knowledge that would speak to major policy issues. The development field has always been one in which the worlds of research and practice are in close relationship with each other and move in tandem. The large number of PhD economists who work in international organizations such as the World Bank and the influence of academia among developing-country officialdom ensure that ideas emanating from the ivory tower often find quick application. But equally important, in principle, is the reverse feedback—the need to tilt researchers' attention on the questions that are, or should be, on the policy agenda. The organization of the present volume around policy issues is designed to make a contribution toward both of these goals.

Rodrik, D., 2010. Diagnostics before Prescription. Journal of Economic Perspectives , 24 (3) , pp. 33-44.Abstract
Development economists should stop acting as categorical advocates (or detractors) for specific approaches to development. They should instead be diagnosticians, helping decisionmakers choose the right model (and remedy) for their specific realities, among many contending models (and remedies). In this spirit, Ricardo Hausmann, Andres Velasco, and I have developed a "growth diagnostics" framework that sketches a systematic process for identifying binding constraints and prioritizing policy reforms in multilateral agencies and bilateral donors. Growth diagnostics is based on the idea that not all constraints bind equally and that a sensible and practical strategy consists of identifying the most serious constraint(s) at work. The practitioner works with a decision tree to do this. The second step in growth diagnostics is to identify remedies for relaxing the constraint that are appropriate to the context and take cognizance of potential second-best complications. Successful countries are those that have implemented these two steps in an ongoing manner: identify sequentially the most binding constraints and remove them with locally suited remedies. Diagnostics requires pragmatism and eclecticism, in the use of both theory and evidence. It has no room for dogmatism, imported blueprints, or empirical purism.
jep2e242e32e33.pdf
Hausmann, R. & Panizza, U., 2010. Redemption or Abstinence? Original Sin, Currency Mismatches, and Counter-Cyclical Policies in the New Millenium.Abstract

This paper updates our previous work on the level and evolution of original sin. It shows that while the number of countries that issue local-currency debt in international markets has increased in the past decade, this improvement has been quite modest. Although we find that countries have been borrowing at home, thanks to deepening domestic markets, we document that foreign participation in these markets is more limited than what is usually assumed. The paper shows that the recent decline of currency mismatches and the consequent ability to conduct countercyclical macroeconomic policies is due to lower net debt (abstinence) and not to redemption from original sin. We conclude that original sin continues to make financial globalization unattractive and developing countries have opted for abstinence because foreign currency debt is too risky. The promised paradise of financial globalization will need to wait for redemption from original sin. 

redemption_or_abstinence.pdf
2009
Hausmann, R. & Klinger, B., 2009. Policies for Achieving Structural Transformation in the Caribbean.Abstract

Countries seldom grow rich by producing the same things more productively. They usually change what they produce in the process of development. Structural transformation is the process whereby countries move to new economic activities that are more productive and thus are able to pay higher wages. This process is very important for growth: countries that are able to upgrade their exports by developing new economic activities tend to grow faster (Hausmann and Rodrik, 2003; Hausmann, Hwang, and Rodrik, 2006).

The purpose of this paper is to apply new methodologies to analyze the history of and future opportunities for structural transformation in the Caribbean. We first look at the composition of exports from the Caribbean, and show that the region is specialized in relatively unsophisticated, ―poor-country‖ export products, and this is not simply a consequence of their small size or specialization in tourism and financial services.

We then review the concept of the ―product space‖ and determine where the Caribbean countries are specialized within this space. The results show that generally these countries export peripheral products that are intensive in capabilities with few alternative uses. In addition, we consider what effects regional integration would have on this opportunity set and show that future opportunities for structural transformation are much higher for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as a perfectly integrated zone—higher than for any of its members on their own.

The final section discusses the policy implications of these results. We show that for almost all countries in the Caribbean there is a need to move to new export activities. Some countries in the region have a set of nearby activities they could exploit, including in the services sector, which suggests a parsimonious approach to promoting new activities is appropriate. This approach involves the government better orienting itself to learn what emerging sectors need in the way of publically provided inputs. But for many countries in the region, there are few nearby activities, suggesting a more proactive search process is necessary. In the appendix we apply the product space data to this search for nearby and more distant export activities for Belize and Jamaica. However, such data is merely a starting point for what must be a continuous process of high-bandwidth dialogue with the private sector to learn what is needed for new activities to emerge. We provide general design guidelines for such a dialogue, both for nearby and more distant activities, and we outline some specific initiatives as examples.

policies-for-achieving-structural-transformation-in-the-caribbean-hausmann-klinger.pdf
Hausmann, R., Ganguli, I. & Viarengo, M., 2009. The Dynamics of the Gender Gap: how do Countries rank in terms of making Marriage and Motherhood compatible with Work?, Geneva: World Economic Forum. Publisher's Version
Hidalgo, C.A. & Hausmann, R., 2009. The Building Blocks of Economic Complexity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 106 (26) , pp. 10570-10575.Abstract

For Adam Smith, wealth was related to the division of labor. As people and firms specialize in different activities, economic effi- ciency increases, suggesting that development is associated with an increase in the number of individual activities and with the complexity that emerges from the interactions between them. Here we develop a view of economic growth and development that gives a central role to the complexity of a country’s economy by interpreting trade data as a bipartite network in which countries are connected to the products they export, and show that it is possible to quantify the complexity of a country’s economy by characterizing the structure of this network. Furthermore, we show that the measures of complexity we derive are correlated with a country’s level of income, and that deviations from this relationship are predictive of future growth. This suggests that countries tend to converge to the level of income dictated by the complexity of their productive structures, indicating that development efforts should focus on generating the conditions that would allow complexity to emerge to generate sustained growth and prosperity.

zpq10570.pdf
Hausmann, R., Tyson, L.D. & Zahidi, S., 2009. The Global Gender Gap Report 2009, World Economic Forum.Abstract

Over the last year, the world has seen the biggest recession in almost a century. It is clear that recovery will require, among other things, the best of talent, ideas and innovation. It is therefore more important now than ever before for countries and companies to pay heed to one of the fundamental cornerstones of economic growth available to them—the skills and talent of their female human resource pool.As consumers, voters, employees and employers, women will be integral to global economic recovery. However, it is not only the financial and economic system that is in need of rethinking, redesigning and rebuilding. Global challenges such as climate change, food security, conflict, education and health require our immediate, collective efforts to find solutions and will, in fact, be intimately linked to our long-term global economic recovery. Girls and women make up one half of the world’s population—without their engagement, empowerment and contribution, we cannot hope to effectively meet these challenges nor achieve rapid economic recovery. And yet, there is still much work to be done in education, health, the workplace, legislation and politics before women around the globe enjoy the same opportunities as men.There are still millions of “missing” women each year because of the preference for sons in some parts of the world.There are too many female infants who do not receive adequate access to healthcare because of the lower value placed on girls, adding to the global burden of infant mortality. Girls are still missing out on primary and secondary education in far greater numbers than boys, thus depriving entire families, communities and economies of the proven and positive multiplier effects generated by girls’ education and instead aggravating poverty, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and maternal and infant mortality. In those countries where women do indeed receive the benefits of health and education, far too many are then unable to contribute fully and productively to the economy because of barriers to their entry into the workforce or barriers to accessing positions of leadership. Finally, women still remain vastly under-represented in political leadership and decision-making.The combined impact of these gaps entails colossal losses to the global society and economy. Measuring the size of the problem is a prerequisite for identifying the best solutions.Through the Global Gender Gap Reports, for the past four years, the World Economic Forum has been quantifying the magnitude of genderbased disparities and tracking their progress over time. By providing a comprehensive framework for benchmarking global gender gaps, the Report reveals those countries that are role models in dividing resources equitably between women and men, regardless of their level of resources. The World Economic Forum places a strong emphasis on a multi-stakeholder approach in order to engage leaders to design the most effective measures for tackling global challenges. In 2008, we launched our Global Gender Parity Group and Regional Gender Parity Groups in Latin America, the Middle East,Africa and Asia.To date, these multi-stakeholder communities of highly influential leaders—50% women and 50% men—from business, politics, academia, media and civil society have jointly identified the biggest gaps in each region, based in part on the findings of this Report, and have collectively committed to strategies to improve the use of female talent. In addition, our Global Agenda Council on the Gender Gap, an expert council, is using the findings of this Report as one of the inputs for developing proposals to address gaps in international cooperation towards gender equality. Each of the individuals and organizations represented in these communities work collectively towards empowering women, developing globally replicable frameworks and bringing the world ever closer to achieving gender parity.

wef_gendergap_report_2009.pdf
Hausmann, R., Austin, E.L. & Mia, I., 2009. The Mexico Competitiveness Report 2009, World Economic Forum.Abstract

The past 20 years have been a period of important reforms in Mexico. Since the late 1980s, the country has undergone an impressive process of liberalization, opening of the economy, and macroeconomic stabilization. Extreme vulnerability to external shocks, double-digit inflation, and current account and fiscal deficits seem to have been overcome. However, a number of weaknesses continue to drag the country’s productivity and hence its potential for sustained economic growth and the well-being of its citizens. In spite of a very benign external environment in the period 2003–07, Mexico’s growth rates have been disappointing, and the challenges facing the country have become even greater in the context of the current major economic and financial crisis — one of the most serious in decades — affecting the United States and the rest of the world. The Mexico Competitiveness Report 2009 aims at providing Mexico’s policymakers, business leaders, and all relevant stakeholders with a unique tool that identifies the country’s main competitiveness flaws and strengths, together with an in-depth analysis of areas that are key to the country’s potential for long-term growth. In doing so, the Report aims to support the country’s reform process and contribute to the definition of a national competitiveness agenda of the priority issues that need to be tackled for Mexico to boost its competitiveness in the face of the present daunting economic outlook. The Report is organized into three thematic parts. Part 1 assesses the current state of Mexico’s competitiveness and its potential for sustained growth using the broad methodological framework offered by the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) 2008–2009. Part 2 features contributions from a number of experts providing additional insights and diagnostics related to particular aspects of the competitiveness challenges faced by the country. Part 3 includes detailed profiles for Mexico and 10 selected countries and offers a comprehensive competitiveness snapshot for each of these countries.

mcr_2009.pdf
Hidalgo, C.A. & Hausmann, R., 2009. The Building Blocks of Economic Complexity.Abstract

For Adam Smith, wealth was related to the division of labor. As people and firms specialize in different activities, economic efficiency increases, suggesting that development is associated with an increase in the number of individual activities and with the complexity that emerges from the interactions between them. Here we develop a view of economic growth and development that gives a central role to the complexity of a country's economy by interpreting trade data as a bipartite network in which countries are connected to the products they export, and show that it is possible to quantify the complexity of a country's economy by characterizing the structure of this network. Furthermore, we show that the measures of complexity we derive are correlated with a country's level of income, and that deviations from this relationship are predictive of future growth. This suggests that countries tend to converge to the level of income dictated by the complexity of their productive structures, indicating that development efforts should focus on generating the conditions that would allow complexity to emerge in order to generate sustained growth and prosperity.

186.pdf
2008
Hausmann, R., Sturzenegger, F. & Horii, M., 2008. The Growing Current Account Surpluses in East Asia: The Effect of Dark Matter Assets. International Economic Journal , 22 (2) , pp. 141-161. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In a series of papers we have developed the notion that net foreign assets could be better approximated by capitalizing the net investment income line of the balance of payments statistics. Hidden assets or changes in financial costs may change the net return of net foreign assets even when the valuation of assets remains unchanged. By capitalizing the net investment income a more realistic picture emerges on the true burden or return of net foreign assets. This paper estimates external positions for East Asian economies using this methodology and compares the results with that of official accounts. We find that, until the late 1990s, net investment income increased relatively little, signaling that net foreign assets had not grown as suggested by the large current account surpluses of these countries. This is consistent with the fact that the region had attracted large amounts of foreign direct investment, for which the transfer of technology and knowledge are not accurately captured by the valuation of the foreign asset position. Since 2002, however, the trend has reversed, indicating much larger surpluses than officially registered. We discuss individual country cases.
Hausmann, R. & Klinger, B., 2008. South Africa's Export Predicament. Economics of Transition , 16 (4) , pp. 609-637. Publisher's Version
Hausmann, R. & Hidalgo, C.A., 2008. A Network View of Economic Development. Developing Alternatives , 12 (1) , pp. 5-10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Does the type of product a country exports matter for subsequent economic performance? To take an example from the 19th-century economist David Ricardo, does it matter if Britain specializes in cloth and Portugal in wine for the subsequent development of either country? The seminal texts of development economics held that it does matter, suggesting that industrialization creates externalities that lead to accelerated growth (Rosenstein-Rodan 1943; Hirschman 1958; Matsuyama 1992). Yet, lacking formal models, mainstream economic theory has made little of these ideas. Instead, current dominant theories use two approaches to explain countries’ patterns of specialization.
hidalgohausmann_dai_2008.pdf

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