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Criss-Crossing Globalization: Uphill Flows of Skill-Intensive Goods and Foreign Direct Investment

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  • Aaditya Mattoo

    ()
    (amattoo@worldbank.org)

  • Arvind Subramanian

    ()
    (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

Abstract

This paper documents an unusual and possibly significant phenomenon: the export of skills embodied in goods, services, or capital from poorer to richer countries. We first present a set of stylized facts. Using a measure that combines the sophistication of a country’s exports with the average income level of destination countries, we show that the performance of a number of developing countries, notably China, Mexico, and South Africa, matches that of much more advanced countries, such as Japan, Spain, and the United States. Creating a new combined dataset on foreign direct investment (FDI) (covering greenfield investments as well as mergers and acquisitions) we show that flows of FDI to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries from developing countries like Brazil, India, Malaysia, and South Africa as a share of their GDP are as large as flows from countries like Japan, Korea, and the United States. Then, taking the work of Hausmann et al. (2007) as a point of departure, we suggest that it is not just the composition of exports but their destination that matters. In both cross-sectional and panel regressions, with a range of controls, we find that a measure of uphill flows of sophisticated goods is significantly associated with better growth performance. These results suggest the need for a deeper analysis of whether development benefits might derive not from deifying comparative advantage but from defying it.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP09-7.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp09-7

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Keywords: Uphill flows; foreign direct investment; finance; sophisticated goods; exports; services; growth; comparative advantage; mergers and acquisitions; greenfield investment;

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  1. Jonathan E. Haskel & Sonia C. Pereira & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2007. "Does Inward Foreign Direct Investment Boost the Productivity of Domestic Firms?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 482-496, August.
  2. Paul A. Samuelson, 2004. "Where Ricardo and Mill Rebut and Confirm Arguments of Mainstream Economists Supporting Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 135-146, Summer.
  3. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Farhi, Emmanuel & Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier, 2008. "An Equilibrium Model of "Global Imbalances" and Low Interest Rates," Scholarly Articles 3229094, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Kalpana Kochhar & Utsav Kumar & Raghuram Rajan & Arvind Subramanian, 2006. "India's Patterns of Development: What Happened, What Follows," NBER Working Papers 12023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Berthelon, Matias & Freund, Caroline, 2008. "On the conservation of distance in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 310-320, July.
  6. Prasad, Eswar & Rajan, Raghuram G. & Subramanian, Arvind, 2007. "Foreign Capital and Economic Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 3186, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Coe, David T & Helpman, Elhanan & Hoffmaister, Alexander W, 1997. "North-South R&D Spillovers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 134-49, January.
  8. Beata K. Smarzynska, 2003. "Does Foreign Direct Investment Increase the Productivity of Domestic Firms? In Search of Spillovers through Backward Linkages," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 548, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  9. De Loecker, Jan, 2007. "Do exports generate higher productivity? Evidence from Slovenia," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 69-98, September.
  10. Robert C. Feenstra & Hiau Looi Kee, 2004. "Export Variety and Country Productivity," NBER Working Papers 10830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Eduardo Borensztein & Jose De Gregorio & Jong-Wha Lee, 1995. "How Does Foreign Direct Investment Affect Economic Growth?," NBER Working Papers 5057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Michael Kremer & Nazmul Chaudhury & F. Halsey Rogers & Karthik Muralidharan & Jeffrey Hammer, 2005. "Teacher Absence in India: A Snapshot," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 658-667, 04/05.
  14. Amin, Mohammad & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2006. "Do institutions matter more for services ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4032, The World Bank.
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