Martin Rama

Chief Economist, South Asia

Martin Rama is the Chief Economist for the South Asia region of the World Bank, based in Delhi, India. His main priorities are to promote debate on difficult policy issues in the region, to lead the preparation of major reports on regional issues, and to oversee the overall quality of the Bank’s analytical work in the region. To deliver on these tasks, he and his team actively engage with counterparts in government, academia, civil society and the business community.

Until October 2012 Rama was the Director of the World Development Report (WDR) 2013, on Jobs. The WDR is the annual flagship report of the World Bank, and an important publication in the area of development economics. The Jobs report built on new research, in-depth case studies and extensive consultations.  It led to the compilation of a massive new database of labor indicators across countries.

Over the previous eight years, until 2010, Rama was the Lead Economist for Vietnam, based in Hanoi. In this capacity, he oversaw the World Bank program in the country in areas related to economic policy and poverty reduction. He was also the focal person in the policy dialogue with government in relation to economic reforms, and led a series of annual policy lending operations co-financed by a dozen donors. Between 2007 and 2009, he also served as the acting Country Director for the World Bank in Vietnam.

Prior to moving to World Bank operations, Rama spent ten years with the research department of the World Bank, mainly in Washington DC, while providing support to a large number of developing countries. The main focus of his work was on labor issues. He co-managed a large research program on the impact of labor market policies and institutions on economic performance. He was also responsible for a research initiative on public sector downsizing. His research activities led to numerous publications in academic journals.

Rama gained his Ph.D. in macroeconomics in France in 1985.  Back to his home country, Uruguay, he worked in CINVE, the country’s largest think tank, and became one of its directors. In parallel with his World Bank duties, he was visiting professor in development economics at the University of Paris until 2005.
Articles in Journals

· “Labor Market ‘Rigidity’ and the Success of Economic Reforms across more than One Hundred Countries” (jointly with Alvaro Forteza), Journal of Policy Reform, 9(1), p. 75-105, March 2006.

· “Globalization and the Labor Market”, World Bank Research Observer, 18(2), p. 159-186, Fall 2003.

· “The Sri Lankan Unemployment Problem Revisited”, Review of Development Economics, 7(3), p. 510-525, August 2003.

· “The Gender Implications of Public Sector Downsizing: The Reform Program of Vietnam”, World Bank Research Observer, 17(2), p. 167-190, Fall 2002.

· "The Consequences of Doubling the Minimum Wage: the Case of Indonesia", Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 54(4), p. 864-881, July 2001.

· "Wage Misalignment in CFA Countries: Are Labor Market Policies to Blame?”, Journal of African Economies, 9(4), p. 475-511, December 2000.

· "Public Sector Downsizing: an Introduction”, World Bank Economic Review, 13(1), p. 1-22, January 1999.

· "Earnings and Welfare after Downsizing: Central Bank Employees in Ecuador" (jointly with Donna MacIsaac), World Bank Economic Review, 13(1), p. 89-116, January 1999.

· "Labor Earnings in One-company Towns: Theory and Evidence from Kazakhstan" (jointly with Kinnon Scott), World Bank Economic Review, 13(1), p. 185-209, January 1999.

· "Lobbying by Capital and Labor over Trade and Labor Market Distortions" (jointly with Guido Tabellini), European Economic Review, 42, p. 1295-1316, July 1998.

· "How Bad is Unemployment in Tunisia? Assessing Labor Market Efficiency in a Developing Country", World Bank Research Observer, 13(1), p. 59-78, February 1998.

· "Imperfect Rent Dissipation with Unionized Labor", Public Choice, 93, p. 55-75, 1997.

· "Determinants of Hourly Earnings in Ecuador: the Role of Labor Market Regulations" (jointly with Donna MacIsaac), Journal of Labor Economics, 15(3) Part 2, p. S136-S165, July 1997.

· "Labor Market Institutions and the Second-Best Tariff", Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 99(2), p. 299-314, June 1997.

· "Organized Labor and the Political Economy of Product Market Distortions", World Bank Economic Review, 11(2), p. 327-355, May 1997.

· "Endogenous Trade Policy: a Time-Series Approach", Economics & Politics, 6(3), p. 215-232, November 1994.

· "Bargaining Structure and Economic Performance in the Open Economy", European Economic Review, 38(2), p. 403-415, February 1994.

· "Rent Seeking and Economic Growth: a Theoretical Model and Some Empirical Evidence", Journal of Development Economics, p. 35-50, October 1993.

· "Exchange Rate Preannouncement and Economic Activity: a Note on Southern Cone Stabilization Attempts", Journal of Macroeconomics, 14(3), p. 509-524, Summer 1992.

· "El país de los vivos: un enfoque económico", Suma, 6(11), p. 7-36, Montevideo, October 1991.

Books and Chapters in Books

· World Development Report 2013, on Jobs. Leading author. Washington DC: The World Bank, October 2012.

· “Investing in the Sense of Place: the Economics of Urban Upgrading Projects with a Cultural Dimension”, in Guido Licciardi and Rana Amirtahmasebi (Eds.): The Economics of Uniqueness, Washington DC: The World Bank, Urban Development Series, October 2012.

· Vietnam Development Report, the annual flagship of the World Bank and the donor community in Vietnam. Leading author for Vietnam: Delivering on its Promise (2003), Poverty (2004), Governance (2005), Business (2006), Aiming High (2007), Social Protection (2008) and Capital Matters (2009).

· “Globalization and Workers in Developing Countries”, in Rana Hasan and Devashish Mitra (eds.): The Impact of Trade on Labor: Issues, Perspectives and Experiences from Developing Asia, Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, North Holland, p. 19-64, 2003.

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