Publications

2016
Bahar, D. & Santos, M.A., 2016. One More Resource Curse: Dutch Disease and Export Concentration.Abstract

Economists have long discussed the negative effect of Dutch disease episodes on the non-resource tradable sector as a whole, but little has been said on its impact on the composition of the non-resource export sector. This paper fills this gap by exploring to what extent concentration of a country’s non-resource export basket is determined by their exports of natural resources. We present a theoretical framework that shows how upward pressure in wages caused by a resource windfall results in higher export concentration. We then document two robust empirical findings consistent with the theory. First, using data on discovery of oil and gas fields and of commodity prices as sources of exogenous variation, we find that countries with larger shares of natural resources in exports have more concentrated non-resource export baskets. Second, we find capital-intensive exports tend to dominate the export basket of countries prone to Dutch disease episodes.

Listen to the podcast interview with the authors

bahar_santos_cidwp68.pdf
Hausmann, R., et al., 2016. Hacia un Chiapas Prospero y Productivo: Instituciones, Políticas y Dialogo Público-Privado Para Promover el Crecimiento Inclusivo.Abstract

Desde la revolución zapatista de enero de 1994, Chiapas ha recibido una enorme cantidad de recursos del gobierno federal. Las brechas en años de escolaridad entre Chiapas y el resto de México se han reducido, y se han realizado numerosas inversiones que han mejorado la infraestructura vial, puertos y aeropuertos. Sin embargo, la brecha que separa a Chiapas del resto de México se ha venido ampliando sostenidamente. Un equipo multidisciplinario de doce expertos se ha dedicado a estudiar diferentes aspectos de la dinámica productiva, política y social de Chiapas. De allí han surgido cinco documentos base: Diagnóstico institucional, Complejidad económica, Diagnóstico de crecimiento, Perfil de pobreza y un piloto de diálogo productivo realizado en una comunidad indígena de Chiapas. Este reporte resume los principales hallazgos surgidos del conjunto de investigaciones y articula sus correspondientes recomendaciones de política.

Nuestra hipótesis es que Chiapas se encuentra en una trampa de baja productividad. Los métodos de producción moderna, estrechamente ligados al proceso de crecimiento y desarrollo, requieren de un conjunto de insumos complementarios que están ausentes en la mayor parte del territorio de Chiapas. Así, no existen incentivos para adquirir nuevos conocimientos que podrían ser utilizados en industrias que no existen. Esta incapacidad para resolver los problemas de coordinación y proveer los insumos requeridos por la producción moderna ha hecho que se desperdicie una buena parte de la inversión social que se ha volcado sobre la entidad.

Para superar el dilema actual y encender la chispa del crecimiento, Chiapas necesita resolver sus problemas de coordinación, conectividad, y promover gradualmente una mayor complejidad. Nuestras recomendaciones se basan en el aprovechamiento de las aglomeraciones de conocimientos que ya existen en los principales centros urbanos de Chiapas, para abordar nuevos sectores productivos de mayor valor agregado y complejidad. Para superar este reto, es necesario crear una estructura público-privada que resuelva de forma iterativa los problemas de coordinación y de provisión de bienes públicos que requieren estos sectores de alto potencial. Los sistemas de transporte público y la política de vivienda son mecanismos para integrar a la población aledaña a los centros urbanos a la nueva dinámica productiva. Zonas económicas especiales o agro-parques industriales pueden ser herramientas para promover la productividad y el crecimiento en lugares en donde hemos detectado que la disponibilidad de mano de obra barata y problemas de apropriabilidad son los principales cuellos de botella.

chiapas_recomendaciones_de_politica_cid_wp_317.pdf Abstract (English) chiapas_policy_recommendations_cidwp_317_english.pdf
Clemens, M., Montenegro, C. & Pritchett, L., 2016. Bounding the Price Equivalent of Migration Barriers.Abstract

Large international differences in the price of labor can be sustained by differences between workers, or by natural and policy barriers to worker mobility. We use migrant selection theory and evidence to place lower bounds on the ad valorem equivalent of labor mobility barriers to the United States, with unique nationally-representative microdata on both U.S. immigrant workers and workers in their 42 home countries. The average price equivalent of migration barriers in this setting, for low-skill males, is greater than $13,700 per worker per year. Natural and policy barriers may each create annual global losses of trillions of dollars.

migration_barriers_cid_wp_316.pdf
Clemens, M. & Pritchett, L., 2016. The New Economic Case for Migration Restrictions: An Assessment.Abstract

For decades, migration economics has stressed the effects of migration restrictions on income distribution in the host country. Recently the literature has taken a new direction by estimating the costs of migration restrictions to global economic efficiency. In contrast, a new strand of research posits that migration restrictions could be not only desirably redistributive, but in fact globally efficient. This is the new economic case for migration restrictions. The case rests on the possibility that without tight restrictions on migration, migrants from poor countries could transmit low productivity (“A” or Total Factor Productivity) to rich countries—offsetting efficiency gains from the spatial reallocation of labor from low to high-productivity places. We provide a novel assessment, proposing a simple model of dynamically efficient migration under productivity transmission and calibrating it with new macro and micro data. In this model, the case for efficiency-enhancing migration barriers rests on three parameters: transmission, the degree to which origin-country total factor productivity is embodied in migrants; assimilation, the degree to which migrants’ productivity determinants become like natives’ over time in the host country; and congestion, the degree to which transmission and assimilation change at higher migrant stocks. On current evidence about the magnitudes of these parameters, dynamically efficient policy would not imply open borders but would imply relaxations on current restrictions. That is, the new efficiency case for some migration restrictions is empirically a case against the stringency of current restrictions.

migration_restrictions_cid_wp_314.pdf
Hausmann, R. & Neffke, F., 2016. The Workforce of Pioneer Plants.Abstract

Is labor mobility important in technological diffusion? We address this question by asking how plants assemble their workforce if they are industry pioneers in a location. By definition, these plants cannot hire local workers with industry experience. Using German social-security data, we find that such plants recruit workers from related industries from more distant regions and local workers from less-related industries. We also show that pioneers leverage a low-cost advantage in unskilled labor to compete with plants that are located in areas where the industry is more prevalent. Finally, whereas research on German reunification has often focused on the effects of east-west migration, we show that the opposite migration facilitated the industrial diversification of eastern Germany by giving access to experienced workers from western Germany.

pioneerplants_cid_wp_310.pdf
2015
Nedelkoska, L. & Khaw, N., 2015. The Albanian Community in the United States: Statistical Profiling of the Albanian-Americans.Abstract

When the Albanian Communist regime fell in 1991-92, many Albanians saw their future outside the borders of Albania. At that time in history, no one anticipated the scale of migration that would take place in the subsequent two decades. Today, one third of Albania’s 1991 population lives abroad. Most of these migrants live and work in neighboring Greece and Italy. The third most popular destination is however the United States. Besides this new wave of migrants, the US has an old Albanian diaspora–the offspring of migrants who came to the US between the First and the Second World War. This is what mainly gives rise to the second generation Albanian-Americans.

To the best of our knowledge, there is currently no systematic documentation of the socio-demographic and economic characteristics of the Albanian community in the US. To bridge this gap, we use data from the American Community Survey 2012 and analyze these characteristics. The profiling could be of interest for anyone who focuses on the Albanians abroad – the Government’s Programs dealing with diaspora and migration issues, researchers interested in migration questions, the Albanian Community Organizations in the US or the diaspora members themselves.

We find that the first and the second generation Albanian-Americans have distinctive features. The first generation (those who arrived after the fall of Communism) is more educated than the non-Albanian Americans with comparable demographics. This is particularly true of Albanian women. The education of the second generation resembles more closely the US population with comparable demographic characteristics.

Despite the qualification advantage, first generation Albanian-Americans earn much less than non-Albanian Americans with comparable socio-demographic characteristics. We find that this is not associated with being Albanian per se but with being an immigrant more generally. The migrant-native gap narrows down with time spent in the US.

An important channel through which the current gap is maintained is qualification mismatch. We observe that first generation Albanian-Americans are over-represented in occupations requiring little skills and under-represented in occupations requiring medium and high skills, in direct contrast to them being more educated than non-Albanians.

When it comes to the earnings of second generation Albanian-Americans, the situation is more nuanced. The low skilled Albanian-Americans earn significantly more, and the highly skilled Albanian-Americans earn significantly less than the non-Albanian Americans with comparable socio-demographic characteristics. We currently do not have a straightforward explanation for this pattern.

The Albanian population in the US is highly concentrated in a few states: New York, Michigan and Massachusetts account for almost 60% of all Albanian Americans. The community in Massachusetts is the best educated; best employed and has the highest earnings among the three, but is also the oldest one in terms of demographics.

However, due to its sheer size (over 60,000 Albanian-Americans), New York is the host of most Albanians with BA degree (about 10,000). New York also hosts the largest number of high earning Albanians (about 1,800 earn at least $100,000 a year).

usadiasporaprofile_final.pdf
Nedelkoska, L. & Kosmo, M., 2015. Albanian-American Diaspora Survey Report.Abstract

This survey studies the ways in which active Albanian-Americans would like to engage in the development of their home countries. Its results will help us define the focus of the upcoming events organized under the Albanian Diaspora Program.

Between March 6th and March 22nd 2015, 1,468 Albanian-Americans took part in the online survey, of which 869 completed the survey. The results presented in this report are based on the answers of the latter group. The results of this survey do not represent the opinions of the general Albanian-American community, but rather the opinions of those who are more likely to engage in an Albanian Diaspora Program.

The survey was jointly prepared with the following Albanian-American organizations: Massachusetts Albanian American Society (MAAS/BESA), Albanian American Success Stories, Albanian Professionals in Washington D.C., Albanian Professionals and Entrepreneurs Network (APEN), Albanian-American Academy, Albanian American National Organization, and VATRA Washington D.C. Chapter. The survey was sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, as a part of the grant OR2013-10995 Economic Growth in Albania granted to the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

diaspora_survey_results_report_v5.pdf
Paul, B.V., 2015. Assessing the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Albania.Abstract

Harvard University’s Center for International Development and the Government of Albania has been engaged in a two year growth strategy exercise starting in 2013 till 2015. Discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture yielded that there is a need for conducting value chain studies on a few important product groups with the following objective:

  • Cultivate ‘value chain’ oriented thinking within the Ministry of Agriculture
  • Identify key issues ‘within’ the particular product groups and ‘across’ different product groups that need to be tackled at the public policy level

Here is a value chain study of the Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (MAPs), specifically of sage and lavender. The products have been chosen given its huge importance in the economy as the largest export commodity in agriculture and their contributions to a farmer’s income. A special black-belt team comprising ministry officials will take forward the findings of this study and will iteratively make policy, ensuring better policies and implementation at the same time.

medicinal_aromatic_plants.pdf
Kumar, R., 2015. Conditions for Re-Opening Exports of Albanian Mussels to to the EU.Abstract

The Centre for International Development (CID) at Harvard University has been leading a two year project with the Government of Albania to help identify and implement growth strategies by studying the constraints that bind specific sectors. In May this year, the Ministry of Agriculture tasked CID to look at the ban imposed by the European Union (EU) on the export of mussels from Albania. The research was sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, as a part of the grant OR2013-10995 Economic Growth in Albania granted to CID.

During the research project, we studied the value chain of mussel production and certification in Albania, mapped the requirements laid down by EU legislation and identified shortfalls in compliance. This report presents our findings and recommendations.

The Butrint lagoon is the main production center for mussels in Albania. By 1989, production from the lagoon had increased to 5,000 tons per year. It dropped dramatically in the 1990s due to an outbreak of cholera and the subsequent ban on the export of mussels by the EU. The ban has not been lifted since. Albania still cannot export mussels to the EU because these do not meet the required sanitary standards.

Our research finds that lack of reliable and affordable purification facilities is at the root of the problem. Unless this constraint is alleviated, it will continue to frustrate efforts to ensure compliance with standards.

albanian_mussels.pdf
Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science
Rodrik, D., 2015. Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Rethinking economics, from the inside out.

In the wake of the financial crisis and the Great Recession, economics seems anything but a science. In this sharp, masterfully argued book, Dani Rodrik, a leading critic from within, takes a close look at economics to examine when it falls short and when it works, to give a surprisingly upbeat account of the discipline.

Drawing on the history of the field and his deep experience as a practitioner, Rodrik argues that economics can be a powerful tool that improves the world—but only when economists abandon universal theories and focus on getting the context right. Economics Rules argues that the discipline's much-derided mathematical models are its true strength. Models are the tools that make economics a science.

Too often, however, economists mistake a model for the model that applies everywhere and at all times. In six chapters that trace his discipline from Adam Smith to present-day work on globalization, Rodrik shows how diverse situations call for different models. Each model tells a partial story about how the world works. These stories offer wide-ranging, and sometimes contradictory, lessons—just as children’s fables offer diverse morals.

Whether the question concerns the rise of global inequality, the consequences of free trade, or the value of deficit spending, Rodrik explains how using the right models can deliver valuable new insights about social reality and public policy. Beyond the science, economics requires the craft to apply suitable models to the context.

The 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers challenged many economists' deepest assumptions about free markets. Rodrik reveals that economists' model toolkit is much richer than these free-market models. With pragmatic model selection, economists can develop successful antipoverty programs in Mexico, growth strategies in Africa, and intelligent remedies for domestic inequality.

At once a forceful critique and defense of the discipline, Economics Rules charts a path toward a more humble but more effective science.

Levy, D., et al., 2015. Why is Chiapas Poor?.Abstract

No matter which way you look at it, Chiapas is the most backward of any state in Mexico. Its per capita income is the lowest of the 32 federal entities, at barely 40% of the national median (Figure 1). Its growth rate for the decade 2003-2013 was also the lowest (0.2%),1 causing the income gap separating Chiapas from the national average to increase from 53% to 60%. That is to say that today the average income for a worker in Mexico is two and a half times greater than the average in Chiapas. The two next poorest states, Oaxaca and Guerrero, are 25% and 30% above Chiapas.2 According to the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía de México (INEGI, National Institute of Statistics and Geography), Chiapas is also the state with the highest poverty rate (74.7%) as well as extreme poverty (46.7%).3

These major differences in income levels among Mexican federal entities are reproduced as in a fractal within Chiapas. In fact, while the wealthiest entity (Mexico City) is wealthier than the poorest (Chiapas) by a factor of six, the difference within Chiapas between the wealthiest municipality (Tuxtla Gutiérrez) and the poorest (Aldama and Mitontic) is by a factor greater than eight.4

As there are different "Mexicos" within Mexico,5 in Chiapas there are also different sorts of Chiapas (Figure 2). Income per capita in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, to the right of the distribution, is five standard deviations above the state average. Next comes a series of intermediate cities, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Comitán de Domínguez, Tapachula, and Reforma, between two and a half to four standard deviations above the average. The remaining municipalities of Chiapas follow (122 in all), clustered to the far left of the distribution. In addition, both the statistics available at the town level and our visits to various municipalities in Chiapas seem to indicate that significant differences also exist within these municipalities.

From this vantage point, questions as to why Chiapas is poor, or what explains its significant backwardness compared to other areas of Mexico, become much more complex. Why do some regions in Chiapas have high income levels, while other regions remain stagnant, fully dependent on federal transfers and deprived from the benefits of modern life?

1 This is the non-oil gross domestic product growth rate reported by INEGI, considered to be more representative of the productive spectrum. In any case, the overall rate of growth in Chiapas (-0.2%) was also the lowest amongst all Mexican entities for the decade.
2 Refers to non-oil GDP; in general terms, Guerrero and Oaxaca are 19% and 16% above Chiapas.
3 Growth figures refer to the decade 2003-2013, poverty figures are those published by INEGI for 2012.
4 Comparisons of Chiapas municipalities are made based on the data from the 10% sample of the 2010 Population Census, which is representative at the state level.
5 This is a reference to the report, A tale of two Mexicos: Growth and prosperity in a two-speed economy, McKinsey Global Institute (2014).

cid_wp_300_english.pdf cid_wp_300_spanish.pdf.pdf
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.

santos_64.pdf
Orozco, M., 2015. The Demand for and Supply of Nostalgic Products among the Albanian-Americans: A Survey,Abstract

The U.S. is home to more than 200,000 ethnic Albanians, about half of whom are emigrants from the Republic of Albania. Despite the significant Albanian population in the U.S., official trade of Albanian goods in the U.S. almost does not exist.

We surveyed about 200 Albanian-Americans and several stores offering goods imported from the Balkan region of Europe in three U.S. metropolitan areas with large Albanian population in order to study their purchasing habits. We found that the willingness to purchase products from the region of origin is certainly not matched by an adequate supply. The stores which offer such products are few, often hard to reach and offer limited supplies of a small variety of commodities. In the study, we recommend steps to strengthen the market for nostalgic good through continued market research, trade-related technical assistance, diaspora-donor partnerships for nostalgic trade development and trade fairs.

nostalgic_trade_albanian_americans.pdf
Ali, O., 2015. Revitalizing the Albanian Electricity Sector ,Abstract

In an attempt to recuperate its dysfunctional electricity distribution system, Albania privatized its sole electricity distribution company in 2009. Disappointed with the results of the privatization, just five years later, the State of Albania renationalized the company.

The case study “Revitalizing the Albanian Electricity Sector” analyzes the key sources of inefficiencies in the electricity distribution sector in Albania and the structural problems of the current state-owned company. It explains how the tariff setting and the failed infrastructural investments triggered a chain effect of financial instability which spilled beyond the limits of the electricity sector and discusses possible reforms to the sector.

ali_ozair_electricity_sector_albania_2015_final.pdf
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
more.

rf_wp_67.pdf
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.

wage_inequality_colombia_wp_66.pdf
Evidence That Calls-Based and Mobility Networks Are Isomorphic
Coscia, M. & Hausmann, R., 2015. Evidence That Calls-Based and Mobility Networks Are Isomorphic. PLOS One , 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Social relations involve both face-to-face interaction as well as telecommunications. We can observe the geography of phone calls and of the mobility of cell phones in space. These two phenomena can be described as networks of connections between different points in space. We use a dataset that includes billions of phone calls made in Colombia during a six-month period. We draw the two networks and find that the call-based network resembles a higher order aggregation of the mobility network and that both are isomorphic except for a higher spatial decay coefficient of the mobility network relative to the call-based network: when we discount distance effects on the call connections with the same decay observed for mobility connections, the two networks are virtually indistinguishable.

Campante, F. & Sole, A., 2015. Implementando Politicas de Desarrollo Productivo En Chiapas: Marco Institucional.Abstract

Este documento propone un nuevo marco institucional para la implementación de políticas de desarrollo productivo (PDP) en Chiapas, con el objetivo de impulsar un cambio estructural de la economía chiapaneca en búsqueda de mayor diversidad y complejidad productiva.

La primera sección contiene un diagnóstico del contexto actual de PDP en el Estado. Se observa un bajo grado de implementación y ejecución, pese a la abundancia de análisis, prescripciones e iniciativas de apoyo a la empresa privada. Esta situación no se puede atribuir a la escasez de recursos. Aunque a nivel estatal no se dispone de muchos recursos para PDP, sí los hay al nivel de programas federales existentes. Se trata de deficiencias de coordinación y liderazgo en el sector público, que interactúan con problemas de coordinación dentro del propio sector privado, con la percepción de inestabilidad político-institucional, y con una historia de desconfianza, para conformar un escenario de escasa colaboración a distintos niveles, por lo que muchas de las oportunidades existentes quedan desaprovechadas.

La segunda sección describe los fundamentos conceptuales para un nuevo marco institucional que haga posible la implementación efectiva de PDP, reflejados en cuatro principios básicos. Primero, el nuevo marco debe construirse con relativamente pocos recursos presupuestarios del Estado. Segundo, se subraya que debe centrarse en la coordinación entre sector público y sector privado, lo que requiere capacidades y conocimientos específicos dentro del sector público, la construcción de una relación de confianza, y la promoción proactiva de la organización y coordinación del sector privado. Tercero, un énfasis en la provisión de bienes y servicios públicos, y no intervenciones de mercado. Cuarto, la promoción de un proceso dinámico iterativo.

Una vez establecidos los principios, en la tercera sección se detalla la propuesta concreta de coordinación para la implementación del nuevo marco institucional. Se centra ella en los siguientes cinco puntos. Primero, la designación de un ente implementador sobre el cual recaiga con claridad el liderazgo y la responsabilidad del proceso de implementación de PDP. Segundo, se recomienda dotar a dicho ente de un staff técnicamente competente. Tercero, debe tener autonomía política. Cuarto, debe ser proactivo, en un proceso de dinamización orientado a la acción. Por último, debe fomentar el liderazgo en el sector privado. Al final, se discuten ejemplos ilustrativos de cómo se podría dar la implementación práctica de ese proceso dinámico.

cid_wp_305_chiapas_institucional.pdf
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.

cid_rfwp_65_piloto_de_crecimiento_inclusivo.pdf
Hausmann, R., Espinoza, L. & Santos, M.A., 2015. Chiapas Growth Diagnosis: The Trap of Low Productivity.Abstract

Chiapas is not only the lowest per capita entity in Mexico, but also the one that has grown the least during the last decade. As a result, the gap that separates it from the rest of the country has been widening significantly. This performance contrasts with the environment of relative macroeconomic and institutional stability that has prevailed during this period.

The low level of income in Chiapas is consistent with the inability of the state to produce things that it can sell beyond its limits. Its per capita exports are among the lowest in Mexico and are concentrated in a series of agricultural primary products, which are traded in highly competitive markets with very low margins.

What are the reasons behind Chiapas' poor economic performance? This document follows the growth diagnosis methodology developed by Hausmann, Rodrik and Velasco (2005), adapting it to a sub-national context. Our objective remains the same: to identify the main constraints to economic growth in Chiapas.

According to the results of our analysis, the main restrictions on the growth of the state are not found in any of the usual suspects. Low levels of education to some extent are associated with the backwardness of Chiapas, but barely enough to explain a small part of the gap. The orography and the climate of Chiapas represent a challenge for the lifting and maintenance of its infrastructure, but the latter does not appear as the main restriction to the development of its productive fabric. There is also no evidence of credit market failures. The low levels of private credit in Chiapas are more associated with the low productivity of the economic activities carried out there than with bottlenecks or insufficiencies in the supply of financing.

Our conclusion is that Chiapas is in a (low) productivity trap. Its main problem is that it has an economy of very low complexity or sophistication, which reflects its few productive capacities. Modern production systems require a number of complementary inputs that are absent in Chiapas. In this context, productive diversity and private investment are low because returns to investment are also very low. Since the demand derived from private investment is low, it inhibits the emergence of a supply of complementary inputs, giving rise to a problem of coordination similar to that of the egg and the hen. Solving this coordination problem requires state intervention. Some of the few cases of manufactured exports that exist in Chiapas have resulted from successful state interventions to coordinate the existence of inputs needed for production with the demand for them. This feature provides the supporting argument that justifies the creation of Special Economic Zones.

In Chiapas, this situation is further aggravated by the combination of three factors: (1) high government transfers, (2) lack of public transportation and (3) low educational level.

Government transfers have effects similar to those identified in the economic literature of the Dutch disease: to increase the relative costs of tradable goods by tilting economic activity to the non-tradable sectors. The absence of a public transport system directly reduces the net benefit of working in the city if you live in the countryside. Thus, a dual equilibrium has been established with significant differences between wages across the entire range of professions and occupations between cities and their nearest rural communities. Finally, although Chiapas has gradually closed the educational gap that separates it from the rest of the country, there are still significant differences. In our opinion, This gap is due to the fact that the decision to accumulate years of schooling is partly endogenous to the returns obtained from education. Seen this way, education gaps would be a mirror of the differences in terms of production methods that predominate in Chiapas, in contrast to the rest of the country. For this reason, we observe that while returns to education are higher in Chiapas, it is more profitable for each educational level to emigrate (to a place where there are other complementary inputs that make higher productivity and a higher salary possible) than to stay in work the entity. Chiapas emigrants, although few, receive similar incomes to workers with the same level of education at the destination. Education gaps would be a mirror of the differences in terms of production methods that predominate in Chiapas, in contrast to the rest of the country. For this reason, we observe that while returns to education are higher in Chiapas, it is more profitable for each educational level to emigrate (to a place where there are other complementary inputs that make higher productivity and a higher salary possible) than to stay in work the entity. Chiapas emigrants, although few, receive similar incomes to workers with the same level of education at the destination. Education gaps would be a mirror of the differences in terms of production methods that predominate in Chiapas, in contrast to the rest of the country. For this reason, we observe that while returns to education are higher in Chiapas, it is more profitable for each educational level to emigrate (to a place where there are other complementary inputs that make higher productivity and a higher salary possible) than to stay in work the entity. Chiapas emigrants, although few, receive similar incomes to workers with the same level of education at the destination. For each educational level it is more profitable to emigrate (to a place where other complementary inputs exist that make possible a greater productivity and a higher salary) than to stay to work in the entity. Chiapas emigrants, although few, receive similar incomes to workers with the same level of education at the destination. For each educational level it is more profitable to emigrate (to a place where other complementary inputs exist that make possible a greater productivity and a higher salary) than to stay to work in the entity. Chiapas emigrants, although few, receive similar incomes to workers with the same level of education at the destination.

The policy implications of this diagnosis point to the need to take advantage of the knowledge that already exists in the greater populated centers of Chiapas and in the rest of Mexico to promote diversification towards other more complex activities that can build upon the capacities already Existing in the area. The creation of a public transport system linking the rural communities surrounding the city could solve the constraint of labor shortages, while opening up greater urban employment opportunities for the inhabitants of neighboring rural communities. This is a typical example of the egg and chicken dynamics that prevails in Chiapas, since a minimum scale of operation is required for the creation of an efficient public transport system,

Our prescription suggests that we take the mountain to Muhammad, since Muhammad has not gone to the mountain. That is to say, to try to solve the problems of coordination through an intervention that approaches the work opportunities to where the workers are, given that under the current conditions the latter do not find it profitable to get closer to where the job opportunities are. There are rural areas with low participation rates and high poverty rates in the neighborhood of San Cristóbal de las Casas. This is also a region where there is a lot of uncertainty for private economic activity, since the existence of ejido territories of community ownership predominates there. One implication of our analysis could be to create an Industrial Park around San Cristóbal, That solves the lack of public goods that has kept away the private economic activity (legal insecurity, difficulty to get land, social unrest), and at the same time bring the companies where the available labor is. The experience within Chiapas of companies like Arnecom-Yazaki indicates that with short training periods, workers could be integrated into relatively modern systems and deal productively.

This solution is a step on which we can enter a sustained development dynamic, through successive improvements in productivity derived from the transformation of production and the progressive adoption of more modern production systems. To grow, Chiapas must start by learning to do things that are already produced in the rest of Mexico and can sell out of the state. From there, the economic fabric and knowledge associated with more modern methods of production will be created, and from there gradually the export capacity can be developed and more complex activities can be developed. This process requires coordination between the different actors, government (national and regional), private sector, and academia, with the aim of proactively seeking adjacent activities,

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