IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Criss-Crossing Globalization: Uphill Flows of Skill-Intensive Goods and Foreign Direct Investment

  • Aaditya Mattoo



  • Arvind Subramanian


    (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

This paper documents an unusual and possibly significant phenomenon: the export of skills embodied in goods, services, or capital from poorer to richer countries. We first present a set of stylized facts. Using a measure that combines the sophistication of a country’s exports with the average income level of destination countries, we 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. Creating a new combined dataset on foreign direct investment (FDI) (covering greenfield investments as well as mergers and acquisitions) we show that flows of FDI to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries from developing countries like Brazil, India, Malaysia, and South Africa as a share of their GDP are as large as flows from countries like Japan, Korea, and the United States. Then, taking the work of Hausmann et al. (2007) as a point of departure, we 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, we find that 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 development benefits might derive not from deifying comparative advantage but from defying it.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP09-7.

in new window

Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp09-7
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1750 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036-1903
Phone: 202-328-9000
Fax: 202-659-3225
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Borensztein, E. & De Gregorio, J. & Lee, J-W., 1998. "How does foreign direct investment affect economic growth?1," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 115-135, June.
  2. 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 2923, The World Bank.
  3. Jan De Loecker, 2004. "Do Exports Generate Higher Productivity? Evidence from Slovenia," LICOS Discussion Papers 15104, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  4. Michael Kremer & Nazmul Chaudhury & F. Halsey Rogers & Karthik Muralidharan & Jeffrey Hammer, 2005. "Teacher Absence in India: A Snapshot," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 658-667, 04/05.
  5. Amin, Mohammad & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2006. "Do institutions matter more for services ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4032, The World Bank.
  6. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2006. "An Equilibrium Model of Global Imbalances and Low Interest Rates," 2006 Meeting Papers 894, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. David T. Coe & Elhanan Helpman & Alexander Hoffmaister, 1995. "North-South R&D Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 5048, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Prasad, Eswar & Rajan, Raghuram G. & Subramanian, Arvind, 2007. "Foreign Capital and Economic Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 3186, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Kalpana Kochhar & Utsav Kumar & Raghuram Rajan & Arvind Subramanian, 2006. "India's Patterns of Development: What Happened, What Follows," NBER Working Papers 12023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Feenstra, Robert & Hiau Looi Kee, 2004. "Export variety and country productivity," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3412, The World Bank.
  11. Berthelon, Matias & Freund, Caroline, 2004. "On the conservation of distance in international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3293, The World Bank.
  12. Jonathan E. Haskel & Sonia C. Pereira & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2002. "Does Inward Foreign Direct Investment Boost the Productivity of Domestic Firms?," NBER Working Papers 8724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  14. Phillip Arestis & Michelle Baddeley & John S.L. McCombie (ed.), 2007. "Economic Growth," Books, Edward Elgar, number 3958, April.
  15. Paul A. Samuelson, 2004. "Where Ricardo and Mill Rebut and Confirm Arguments of Mainstream Economists Supporting Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 135-146, Summer.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp09-7. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peterson Institute webmaster)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.