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Energy intensity and foreign direct investment: A Chinese city-level study


  • Elliott, Robert J.R.
  • Sun, Puyang
  • Chen, Siyang


In this paper we investigate the relationship between the energy intensity of Chinese cities and the location of foreign firms employing a unique dataset of 206 of the largest prefecture-level cities between 2005 and 2008. Our results reveal a non linear inverted-U shaped relationship between energy intensity and city-level per capita income with the majority of cities on the downward slope of the curve. We also find evidence of a significant and negative relationship between the foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into a city and energy intensity. However, this effect varies by geographic location reflecting differences in the ability of regions to absorb and benefit from environmental spillovers. The relatively small economic effect of FDI can in part explained by the propensity for foreign firms to invest in energy intensive sectors coupled with the trend for China to invest heavily in capital intensive industries.

Suggested Citation

  • Elliott, Robert J.R. & Sun, Puyang & Chen, Siyang, 2013. "Energy intensity and foreign direct investment: A Chinese city-level study," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 484-494.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:40:y:2013:i:c:p:484-494 DOI: 10.1016/j.eneco.2013.08.004

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Energy efficiency; Economic growth; Foreign direct investment;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • P28 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Natural Resources; Environment
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy


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