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Can Openness Deter Corruption? The Role of Foreign Direct Investment

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  • Larrain B., Felipe
  • Tavares, José

Abstract

The economics literature provides ample evidence that higher corruption discourages FDI inflows. In this paper we address, for the first time in the literature in a systematic way, the exact reverse link, i.e., the empirical effect of FDI inflows on corruption. We present a simple model that illustrates the two-way relationship between foreign direct investment and corruption, identifying exactly the direction of causality that we address: how do “exogenous“ variations in FDI affect the degree of corruption in the host country. Our dataset covers a wide group of countries for the period 1981 – 2000, and we confront the issue of causality by constructing an original set of instrumental variables relying on geographical and cultural distance between FDI source and host countries to measure exogenous time-varying changes in FDI inflows. We find that FDI inflows (as a share of GDP) significantly decrease corruption in the host country. The quantitative impact of FDI inflows on corruption is stronger than the impact of trade openness and tariff rates on corruption and is validated by the use of instrumental variables. The results are robust to the inclusion of several determinants of openness, in addition to trade intensity and the average tariff level, including dependence on natural resources, ethnic fractionalization, size of the economy and government expenditure. Quantitatively, the impact of FDI inflows on corruption is of the same order of magnitude as the impact of per capita income on corruption.

Suggested Citation

  • Larrain B., Felipe & Tavares, José, 2007. "Can Openness Deter Corruption? The Role of Foreign Direct Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 6488, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6488
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Kasekende, Elizabeth & Abuka, Charles & Sarr, Mare, 2016. "Extractive industries and corruption: Investigating the effectiveness of EITI as a scrutiny mechanism," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 117-128.
    4. Vincenzo Alfano & Salvatore Capasso & Rajeev K. Goel, 2021. "EU accession: A boon or bane for corruption?," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 45(1), pages 1-21, January.
    5. Verdier, Thierry, 2010. "Ouverture, conflits et capacité étatique : une perspective d’économie politique," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 86(4), pages 415-449, décembre.
    6. Donaubauer, Julian & Kannen, Peter & Steglich, Frauke, 2018. "Foreign direct investment & corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa: An empirical analysis at the local level," Kiel Working Papers 2118, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    7. Ahmad, Mahyudin & Hall, Stephen G., 2014. "Explaining social capital effects on growth and property rights via trust-alternative variables," MPRA Paper 58358, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Bin Dong & Benno Torgler, 2010. "The Consequences of Corruption: Evidence from China," Working Papers 2010.73, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    9. Elizabeth Kasekende & Charles Abuka & Marr Sar, 2017. "Extractive Industries and Corruption: Investigating the Effectiveness of the EITI as a Scrutiny Mechanism," Working Papers 326, African Economic Research Consortium, Research Department.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corruption; Foreign Direct Investment; Instrumental Variables; International Trade; Tariffs;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F30 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - General
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General

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