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

  • Aaditya Mattoo

    ()

    (amattoo@worldbank.org)

  • 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.

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

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp09-7
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  1. Robert C. Feenstra & Hiau Looi Kee, 2004. "Export Variety and Country Productivity," NBER Working Papers 10830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Coe, David T & Helpman, Elhanan & Hoffmaister, Alexander W, 1997. "North-South R&D Spillovers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 134-49, January.
  3. 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.
  4. Kochhar, Kalpana & Kumar, Utsav & Rajan, Raghuram & Subramanian, Arvind & Tokatlidis, Ioannis, 2006. "India's pattern of development: What happened, what follows?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 981-1019, July.
  5. Ricardo J Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2006. "An equilibrum model of "global imbalances" and low interest rates," BIS Working Papers 222, Bank for International Settlements.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Arvind Subramanian & Raghuram Rajan & Ioannis Tokatlidis & Kalpana Kochhar & Utsav Kumar, 2006. "India's Pattern of Development; What Happened, What Follows?," IMF Working Papers 06/22, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Phillip Arestis & Michelle Baddeley & John S.L. McCombie (ed.), 2007. "Economic Growth," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3958.
  10. Berthelon, Matias & Freund, Caroline, 2004. "On the conservation of distance in international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3293, The World Bank.
  11. Prasad, Eswar & Rajan, Raghuram G. & Subramanian, Arvind, 2007. "Foreign Capital and Economic Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 3186, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Amin, Mohammad & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2006. "Do institutions matter more for services ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4032, The World Bank.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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