Alonso Alfaro Ureña

I am an economist working as a Senior Researcher at Banco Central de Costa Rica and the Department of Economics at Universidad de Costa Rica.

You can download my CV.


TW: @alonsoalfaro

Featured Working Papers

(with Isabela Manelici and José P. Vasquez).

Revised and Resubmitted at Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Media coverage: VoxDev Summary, IGC Blog

Abstract: We study the effects of becoming a supplier to multinational corporations (MNCs) using tax data tracking firm-to-firm transactions in Costa Rica. Event-study estimates reveal that domestic firms experience strong and persistent gains in performance after supplying to a first MNC buyer. Four years after, domestic firms employ 26% more workers and have a 4 to 9% higher total factor productivity (TFP). These effects are unlikely to be explained by demand effects or changes in tax compliance. Moreover, suppliers experience a large drop in their sales to all other buyers except the first MNC buyer in the year of the event, followed by a gradual recovery. The dynamics of adjustment in sales to others suggests that firms face short-run capacity constraints that relax over time. Four years later, the sales to others grow by 20%. Most of this growth comes from the acquisition of new buyers, which tend to be "better buyers" (e.g., larger and with more stable supplier relationships). Finally, surveys of domestic firms and MNCs provide further insights into the wide-ranging benefits of supplying to MNCs. According to our surveys, these benefits range from better managerial practices to a better reputation.

(with Isabela Manelici and José P. Vasquez).

Abstract: This paper estimates the effects of foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) on workers. To that end, we combine microdata on all worker-firm and firm-firm relationships in Costa Rica with an instrumental variable strategy that exploits shocks to the size of MNCs in the country. First, using a within-worker event-study design, we find a direct MNC wage premium of nine percent. This premium reflects above market wages rather than compensation for disamenities. Next, we study the indirect effects of MNCs on workers in domestic firms. As MNCs bring jobs that pay a premium, they can improve the outside options of workers by altering both the level and composition of labor demand. MNCs can also enhance the performance of domestic employers through firm-level input-output linkages. Shocks to firm performance may then pass through to wages. We show that the growth rate of annual earnings of a worker experiencing a one standard deviation increase in either her labor market or firm-level exposure to MNCs is one percentage point higher than that of an identical worker with no change in either MNC exposure. Finally, we develop a model to rationalize the reduced-form evidence and estimate structural parameters that govern wage setting in domestic firms. We model MNCs as paying a wage premium and buying inputs from domestic firms. To hire new workers, domestic firms need to incur recruitment and training costs. Model-based estimates reveal that workers in domestic firms are sensitive to improvements in outside options. Moreover, the marginal recruitment and training cost of the average domestic firm is estimated at 90% of the annual earnings of a worker earning the competitive market wage. This high cost allows incumbent workers to extract part of the increase in firm rents coming from intensified linkages with MNCs.

(Mis)matching to Good Suppliers: Evidence from Transactions Microdata

[Draft available upon request]

w/ José P. Vásquez and Paolo Zacchia.

Responsible Sourcing? Theory and Evidence from Costa Rica

w/ Benjamin Faber, Cecile Gaubert, Isabela Manelici and José P. Vásquez).

Firm Export Dynamics in Interdependent Markets

w/ Juan Manuel Castro, Sebastian Fanelli and Eduardo Morales.

The Evolution of Labor Earnings and Inequality in Costa Rica: Micro-Level Evidence

[Draft available soon]

w/ Isabela Manelici, José P. Vásquez and Alfredo Mendoza-Fernandez.