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The Tax Sensitivity of Foreign Direct Investment: Evidence from Firm-Level Panel Data

In: The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations

  • Jason Cummins
  • R. Glenn Hubbard

Understanding the determinants of foreign direct investment (FDI) is important for analyzing capital flows and the industrial organization of multinational firms. Most empirical studies of FDI, however, have focused on case studies of nontax factors in overseas investment decisions or on discerning reduced-form relationships between some measure of FDI and variables relating to nontax and tax aspects of the investment decision. In this paper, we examine the effects of taxation on FDI using previously unexplored (for this purpose) panel data on FDI by subsidiaries of U.S. multinational firms collected by Compustat's geographic segment file project. These firm- level data contain information on new capital investment overseas which enable us to measure tax influences on FDI more precisely and allow us to focus on structural models of subsidiaries' investment decision. Our empirical results cast significant doubt on the simplest notion that 'taxes don't matter' for U.S. firms' FDI decisions. Tax parameters influence FDI in precisely the way indicated by neoclassical models. Our results also lend support to the application of the 'tax capitalization' model to the study of dividend repatriation and foreign direct investment decisions.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Martin Feldstein & James R. Hines Jr. & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1995. "The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld95-2, October.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 7742.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7742
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.orgEmail:


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