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Criss-crossing globalization : uphill flows of skill-intensive goods and foreign direct investment

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  • Mattoo, Aaditya
  • Subramanian, Arvind

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. The authors first present a set of stylized facts. Then, using a measure that combines the sophistication of a country’s exports with the average income level of destination countries, they 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. The authors create a new combined dataset on foreign direct investment (covering greenfield investment as well as mergers and acquisitions). The analysis shows that flows of foreign direct investment to developed countries from developing countries - like Brazil, India, Malaysia and South Africa - as a share of their GDP, are as large as flows from developed countries - like Japan, Korea and the United States. The authors 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, 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 the benefits of development might derive not from deifying comparative advantage but from defying it.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5047.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5047

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Keywords: Economic Theory&Research; Debt Markets; Emerging Markets; Investment and Investment Climate; Trade Policy;

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  1. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2006. "An Equilibrium Model of "Global Imbalances" and Low Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 11996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. De Loecker, Jan, 2007. "Do exports generate higher productivity? Evidence from Slovenia," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 69-98, September.
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  10. 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.
  11. Borensztein, E. & De Gregorio, J. & Lee, J-W., 1998. "How does foreign direct investment affect economic growth?1," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 115-135, June.
  12. Amin, Mohammad & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2006. "Do institutions matter more for services ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 4032, The World Bank.
  13. Smarzynska, Beata K., 2002. "Does foreign direct investment increase the productivity of domestic firms : in search of spillovers through backward linkages," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 2923, The World Bank.
  14. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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