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Taxation and Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: A Reconsideration of the Evidence

In: Studies in International Taxation

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  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • Kevin Hassett
  • Joel Slemrod

Abstract

Foreign direct investment in the United States boomed in the late 1980s. Some have attributed this rise to the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which by discouraging investment by domestic firms may have provided opportunities for foreign firms not as strongly affected by the U.S. tax changes. We challenge this view on theoretical and empirical grounds, finding that: (1) While the argument applies to new capital investment, the boom was primarily in mergers and acquisitions; (2) While the argument holds primarily for investment in equipment, there was no shift toward the acquisition of equipment-intensive firms, and (3) The FDI boom in the U.S. was really part of a worldwide FDI boom ? the U.S. share of outbound FDI from other countries did not increase during the period 1987-9.
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Suggested Citation

  • Alan J. Auerbach & Kevin Hassett & Joel Slemrod, 1993. "Taxation and Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: A Reconsideration of the Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: Studies in International Taxation, pages 119-148 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7996
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    1. Auerbach, Alan J, 1989. "Tax Reform and Adjustment Costs: The Impact on Investment and Market Value," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(4), pages 939-962, November.
    2. Slemrod, J., 1990. "The Impact Of The Tax Reform Act Of 1986 On Foreign Direct Investment To And From The United States," Working Papers 256, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
    3. Alan J. Auerbach & James R. Hines, Jr., 1987. "Anticipated Tax Changes and the Timing of Investment," NBER Chapters,in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 163-200 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach, 1988. "Corporate Takeovers: Causes and Consequences," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number auer88-1.
    5. repec:fth:michin:256 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Swenson, Deborah L., 1994. "The impact of U.S. tax reform on foreign direct investment in the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 243-266, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Demirgüç-Kunt, Asli & Huizinga, Harry, 2001. "The taxation of domestic and foreign banking," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 429-453, March.
    2. Timothy J. Goodspeed & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Li Zhang, 2006. "Attracting FDI: Are Other Government Policies More Important than Taxation in Attracting FDI?," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 414, Hunter College Department of Economics.
    3. Gilroy, Bernard Michael & Lukas, Elmar, 2002. "The New Agenda for FDI: Evidence from South Korea and Germany," MPRA Paper 17970, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Timothy Goodspeed & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Li Zhang, 2011. "Public Policies and FDI Location: Differences between Developing and Developed Countries," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 67(2), pages 171-191, June.
    5. Devereux, Michael P. & Griffith, Rachel, 1998. "Taxes and the location of production: evidence from a panel of US multinationals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 335-367, June.
    6. Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 2006. "Vying for Foreign Direct Investment: A EU-type Model of Tax Competition," NBER Working Papers 11991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 2007. "Productivity and Taxes as Drivers of FDI," Working Papers 172007, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    8. Assaf Razin & Yona Rubinstein & Efraim Sadka, 2005. "Corporate Taxation and Bilateral FDI with Threshold Barriers," NBER Working Papers 11196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Michael Devereux & Harold Freeman, 1995. "The impact of tax on foreign direct investment: Empirical evidence and the implications for tax integration schemes," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 2(1), pages 85-106, February.
    10. Bruce Blonigen, 2005. "A Review of the Empirical Literature on FDI Determinants," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 33(4), pages 383-403, December.
    11. Roberta De Santis & Maria Cristina Mercuri & Claudio Vicarelli, 2001. "Taxes and Location of Foreign Direct Investments: an Empirical Analysys for the European Union Countries," ISAE Working Papers 24, ISTAT - Italian National Institute of Statistics - (Rome, ITALY).
    12. Hines, James R, Jr, 1996. "Altered States: Taxes and the Location of Foreign Direct Investment in America," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1076-1094, December.
    13. Desai, Mihir A. & Foley, C. Fritz & Hines, James Jr., 2004. "Foreign direct investment in a world of multiple taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2727-2744, December.
    14. Norbäck, Pehr-Johan & Persson, Lars & Vlachos, Jonas, 2006. "Cross-Border Acquisitions and Corporate Taxes: Efficiency and Tax Revenues," Working Paper Series 663, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    15. Rachel Griffith & Helen Simpson, 2004. "Characteristics of Foreign-Owned Firms in British Manufacturing," NBER Chapters,in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 147-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. James R. Hines, Jr., 1996. "Tax Policy and the Activities of Multinational Corporations," NBER Working Papers 5589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. de Mooij, Ruud A & Ederveen, Sjef, 2003. "Taxation and Foreign Direct Investment: A Synthesis of Empirical Research," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 10(6), pages 673-693, November.
    18. Shafik Hebous & Martin Ruf & Alfons J. Weichenrieder, 2010. "The Effects of Taxation on the Location Decision of Multinational Firms: M&A vs. Greenfield Investments," CESifo Working Paper Series 3076, CESifo Group Munich.
    19. Deborah L. Swenson, 2000. "Transaction Type and the Effect of Taxes on the Distribution of Foreign Direct Investment in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: International Taxation and Multinational Activity, pages 89-112 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Becker, Sascha O. & Egger, Peter H. & Merlo, Valeria, 2012. "How low business tax rates attract MNE activity: Municipality-level evidence from Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 698-711.
    21. Jason Cummins & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1995. "The Tax Sensitivity of Foreign Direct Investment: Evidence from Firm-Level Panel Data," NBER Chapters,in: The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations, pages 123-152 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Azémar, Céline & Delios, Andrew, 2008. "Tax competition and FDI: The special case of developing countries," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 85-108, March.
    23. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Lionel Fontagné & Amina Lahrèche-Revil, 2000. "Foreign Direct Investment and the Prospects for Tax Co-Ordination in Europe," Working Papers 2000-06, CEPII research center.
    24. Nelly Exbrayat, 2008. "The Impact of Trade Integration and Agglomeration Economies on Tax Interactions : Evidence from OECD Countries," Post-Print hal-00270067, HAL.
    25. Ruud A. de Mooij & Sjef Ederveen, 2006. "What a difference does it make? Understanding the empirical literature on taxation and international capital flows," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 261, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.

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