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An Empirical Assessment of the Factor Proportions Explanation of Multi-National Sales

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  • S. Lael Brainard

Abstract

This paper provides empirical evidence that challenges the factor proportions explanation of multinational activity. The same tests on intra-industry ratios and total volumes that were used to demonstrate that a substantial part of trade is explained by factor proportions and income similarities rather than differences are applied to affiliate sales with surprisingly similar results. Some support for the factor proportions hypothesis is derived by comparing affiliate production destined for export to the parent's market, which is the category of activity most likely to be motivated by factor proportions considerations, with that destined for sale in the local market. Affiliate production destined for export home is moderately more responsive to factor proportions differences. However, the two types of activity differ more in their responses to transport costs and destination market income. Overall, the evidence suggests that only a small part of multinational activity into and out of the U.S. in the late 1980s can be explained by factor proportions differences.

Suggested Citation

  • S. Lael Brainard, 1993. "An Empirical Assessment of the Factor Proportions Explanation of Multi-National Sales," NBER Working Papers 4583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4583 Note: ITI
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:fth:michin:339 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Grubert, Harry & Mutti, John, 1991. "Taxes, Tariffs and Transfer Pricing in Multinational Corporate Decision Making," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(2), pages 285-293, May.
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    4. David Hummels & James Levinsohn, 1995. "Monopolistic Competition and International Trade: Reconsidering the Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 799-836.
    5. S. Lael Brainard, 1993. "An Empirical Assessment of the Proximity-Concentration Tradeoff between Multinational Sales and Trade," NBER Working Papers 4580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Lipsey, Robert E & Weiss, Merle Yahr, 1981. "Foreign Production and Exports in Manufacturing Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(4), pages 488-494, November.
    7. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 451-471, June.
    8. Bowen, Harry P & Leamer, Edward E & Sveikauskas, Leo, 1987. "Multicountry, Multifactor Tests of the Factor Abundance Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 791-809, December.
    9. Horst, Thomas, 1972. "The Industrial Composition of U. S. Exports and Subsidiary Sales to the Canadian Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 37-45, March.
    10. Wilfred J. Ethier, 1986. "The Multinational Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 805-833.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation

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