Policy Research

Goldstein, P., 2020. Pathways for Productive Diversification in Ethiopia, Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development.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.

Hausmann, R., et al., 2020. Diagnóstico de Crecimiento de Loreto: Principales Restricciones al Desarrollo Sostenible.Abstract

Sembrado en el flanco oeste de la selva amazónica, Loreto se encuentra entre los departamentos más pobres y con peores indicadores sociales del Perú. El desarrollo enfrenta allí un sinfín de barreras, pero no todas son igualmente limitantes y tampoco hay recursos para atender todos los problemas a la vez. El Laboratorio de Crecimiento de la Universidad de Harvard, bajo el auspicio de la Fundación Gordon and Betty Moore, ha desarrollado un Diagnóstico de Crecimiento que buscar identificar las restricciones más limitantes, y priorizar las intervenciones de políticas públicas alrededor de un número reducido de factores con el mayor impacto. La investigación, que se fundamenta en análisis de bases de datos nacionales e internacionales, e incluye factores cuantitativos y cualitativos derivados de las visitas de campo, identifica a la conectividad de transporte, los problemas de coordinación asociados al autodescubrimiento, y la energía eléctrica, como las restricciones más vinculantes para el desarrollo de Loreto. De acuerdo con nuestras conclusiones, mejoras en la provisión de estos tres factores tendrían un mayor impacto sobre el desarrollo sostenible de la región que mejores en la educación y los niveles de capital humano, el acceso a financiamiento, y otros sospechosos habituales. Este reporte es el segundo de una investigación más amplia – Transformación estructural y restricciones limitantes a la prosperidad en Loreto, Perú – que busca aportar insumos para el desarrollo de políticas públicas a escala nacional y regional que contribuyan a promover el desarrollo productivo y la prosperidad de la región.

Hausmann, R., et al., 2020. La Riqueza Escondida de Loreto: Análisis de Complejidad Económica y Oportunidades de Diversificación Productiva.Abstract

El Laboratorio de Crecimiento de la Universidad de Harvard, bajo el auspicio de la Fundación Gordon and Betty Moore, ha desarrollado esta investigación para identificar las capacidades productivas existentes en Loreto y las actividades económicas con potencial para liderar la transformación estructural de su economía. Este reporte forma parte de una investigación más amplia – Transformación estructural y restricciones limitantes a la prosperidad en Loreto, Perú – que busca aportar insumos para el desarrollo de políticas públicas a escala nacional y regional que contribuyan a promover el desarrollo productivo y la prosperidad de la región, tomando en cuenta sus características particulares.

Hausmann, R. & Klinger, B., 2008. Structural Transformation in Pakistan, Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development.Abstract
Structural transformation is the process by which countries change what they produce and move from low-productivity, low-wage activities to high-productivity, high-wage activities. The purpose of this report is to use emerging methodologies to analyze Pakistan’s history of and opportunities for structural transformation, in an effort to better understand past economic performance and accelerate future economic growth. Part 1 looks at the composition of Pakistan’s export basket and establishes that the country is specialized in relatively unsophisticated export activities that are typical of poorer countries. Compared to other countries in Asia, Pakistan has not been moving to new and better export activities, and consequently has fallen behind. We show that this is in part because the actual products that Pakistan currently produces are intensive in capabilities with few alternative uses. Pakistan is specialized in a relatively peripheral part of the product space, and has not explored the productive possibilities as actively as its comparators. Given this record, an important priority in the future is to accelerate structural transformation. Pakistan’s current orientation in the product space suggests that such acceleration would require a mix of facilitating movements to nearby activities, as well as encouraging more strategic jumps to new areas of the product space. Part 2 uses the data and methodologies of Part 1 to identify what those nearby and more distant activities might be, while Part 3 discusses appropriate policies that follow from these results and promote structural transformation, without suffering common failures of past industrial policies. The key message is that the government of Pakistan must actively learn the sector-specific constraints to structural transformation and overcome them in order to accelerate future economic growth.
Hausmann, R. & Purfield, C., 2004. The Challenge of Fiscal Adjustment in a Democracy: The Case of India.Abstract
India’s fiscal problem has deep roots in its federal fiscal system, where multiple players find it difficult to coordinate adjustment. The size and closed nature of the Indian economy, aided by its deep domestic capital market and large captive pool of domestic savings, has disguised the cost of fiscal laxity and complicated the building of a consensus on reform. The new fiscal responsibility act establishes a new rules-based system to overcome this coordination failure. To strengthen the framework, we recommend an autonomous scorekeeper and the extension of similar rules to the state governments as part of a comprehensive reform of the federal system.
Hausmann, R., et al., 2020. Emerging Cities as Independent Engines of Growth: The Case of Buenos Aires.Abstract

What does it take for a sub-national unit to become an autonomous engine of growth? This issue is particularly relevant to large cities, as they tend to display larger and more complex know-how agglomerations and may have access to a broader set of policy tools. To approximate an answer to this question, specific to the case of Buenos Aires, Harvard’s Growth Lab engaged in a research project from December 2018 to June 2019, collaborating with the Center for Evidence-based Evaluation of Policies (CEPE) of Universidad Torcuato di Tella, and the Development Unit of the Secretary of Finance of the City of Buenos Aires. Together, we have developed research agenda that seeks to provide inputs for a policy plan aimed at decoupling Buenos Aires’s growth trajectory from the rest of Argentina’s.

Listen to the Growth Lab Podcast interview with the authors. 

Venezuela: How an Oil Rich Country Went Bust and the Roadmap to Get It Back on Track

Venezuela is currently undergoing the worst economic crisis in its history. By the end of 2016, more than 30% of the gross domestic product (GDP) it had three years ago will be lost. Poverty has soared to record levels. Monthly inflation rates are gradually approaching hyperinflation. Shortages of basic food staples and medicines are rampant. In order to promote a better understanding of the causes, magnitudes, and possible remedies of the crisis, the Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University launched a research initiative on Venezuela at the end of 2015. In this Growth... Read more about Venezuela: How an Oil Rich Country Went Bust and the Roadmap to Get It Back on Track
Hausmann, R. & Klinger, B., 2007. Structural Transformation in Chile. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The main finding of this analysis is that Chile’s pattern of specialization implies little opportunities for easy movements to new activities. Chile is specialized in an extremely sparse part of the product space and has a relatively unsophisticated export package. Past growth has been surprisingly strong given this pattern of specialization, as has been performance in the services sector, and it appears that there does remain some room to continue growing through quality upgrading in existing products. However, Chile has little room to increase its market share in existing products, and its current export package does not offer a path to future structural transformation and growth. Furthermore, this isn’t due to Chile’s status as a natural resource-based economy, as the country lags in these dimensions even when compared to countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Movements to new sectors are necessary, but will be difficult given this pattern of specialization. This suggests that there should be some scope for public investment in the study and coordination of new export activities to fuel long-term economic growth.
Hausmann, R., Rodrik, D. & Rodriguez-Clare, A., 2005. Toward a Strategy for Economic Growth in Uruguay, Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Uruguayan economy is recovering from the 2002 financial crisis that disrupted its banking system, caused a collapse of its currency and seriously affected its fiscal solvency. The crisis was clearly associated with the collapse of the Argentine economy and its concomitant currency, banking and debt crises. Both were also related to the sudden stop that followed the Russian crisis of 1998, which prompted an important realignment of the real in January 1999, a fact that had exerted enormous pressure on bilateral exchange rates within Mercosur. In this post-crisis period, Uruguay now faces several challenges to attain a sustainable growth path. This report proposes a series of recommendations towards this end. Implementing a strategy to accelerate growth inevitably involves interventions at both the macro and the micro level. The macro level involves the maintenance of a stable and competitive real exchange rate, so as to create a stable and encouraging environment for export growth. The authors take up each of these elements of the growth strategy. They first focus on the design of incentive policies for economic diversification and promotion. Then they discuss next the macroeconomic complements, with special emphasis on maintaining a competitive and stable real exchange rate.
Hausmann, R. & Klinger, B., 2007. Growth Diagnostic: Paraguay.Abstract

Paraguay’s growth history is characterized by prolonged periods of stagnation, interrupted by a few small recessions and growth accelerations. These dynamics reveal that growth in Paraguay has been dependent on latching on to particular export goods enjoying favorable external conditions, rather than driven by macroeconomic or political cycles. Moreover, the country currently has significant room for further export growth in existing products, as well as many new export products that are nearby and have high potential. But these available channels to generate sustained growth have all gone unexploited. Our growth diagnostic indicates that the underlying obstacles that have prevented the country from developing many of the available opportunities are related to two constraints: the provision of infrastructure and a lack of appropriability due to corruption and a poor regulatory environment. The current environment is one where the only activities that can survive have to be un-intensive in infrastructure, and either unintensive in transactions requiring an efficient business environment or at least at a scale where informality and corruption is a viable alternative to institutional blockages. We provide policy recommendations that will help alleviate these problems, focusing on not only on institutional and infrastructure reforms in the abstract, but outlining a process of learning from the relevant private sector actors what sector-specific needs in the areas of regulations and infrastructure are the most important for achieving accelerated growth in Paraguay.

Shifting Gears in Panama: Policy Recommendations for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth

On today's Growth Lab podcast, Harvard Kennedy School student Alexandra Gonzalez interviews Miguel Angel Santos, Adjunct Professor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and Director of Applied Research at Harvard's Growth Lab. Miguel discusses the Growth Lab's research initiative in Panama aimed at exploring export...

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New Pathways to Inclusive Growth: The Sri Lanka Project in Retrospect

Starting in November 2015, The Growth Lab was engaged in economic policy research with the Government of Sri Lanka. Led by Professor Ricardo Hausmann, the team focused on a single question: what is holding back investment in Sri Lanka – especially in new and non-traditional export-oriented sectors – and what can the government do about it? In this Growth Lab podcast, members of the Sri Lanka team share their learnings from the project and how they partnered with key counterparts in the government and civil society to support potential solutions, and better understand the deeper...

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Jordan: The Elements of a Growth Strategy

Between 1999 and 2009, Jordan experienced a huge growth acceleration, tripling its exports and increasing income per capita by 38%. Since then, its economy has been thrown off balance, impacted by a number of external shocks that include the global financial crisis, the Arab Spring, and the Syrian Civil War. For the past year, The Growth Lab has been working in the country with the goal of understanding what is hindering income growth per capita and drafting a roadmap to help Jordan get back on a sustainable growth track. On today's Growth Lab podcast, Director of Applied Research,...

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Public Policy in Action: What Did Working in Albania Teach Us about Economic Growth?

Since 2013, the Center for International Development has been collaborating with the Government of Albania to identify binding constraints to economic growth and create policy solutions to solve them. CID’s Growth Lab and Building State Capability programs have used the tools of growth diagnostics and problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) to help drive economic growth in the country. CID Researchers Ermal Frasheri and Tim McNaught have seen firsthand how theory informs public policy and how insights from public policymaking, in turn, enrich our theoretical frameworks. In this Growth Lab... Read more about Public Policy in Action: What Did Working in Albania Teach Us about Economic Growth?