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The Effects of Direct Foreign Investment on Local Communities


  • David N. Figlio
  • Bruce A. Blonigen


The large increase in direct foreign investment (DFI) into the United States in the late 1980s has generated considerable research on why these flows occurred and where these foreign firms located. However, very little has been done to evaluate the impact these foreign firms have on the local communities in which they locate. As a first step in addressing this topic, we use detailed county-level panel data from South Carolina across 5 year intervals from 1980 through 1995 to investigate the effect of foreign manufacturing firms on local labor markets and on the level and distribution of local government budgets. We find that manufacturing employment by foreign firms has a substantial impact on industry wages and county budgets which is significantly different from domestic manufacturing employment. With respect to wages, we find that while increased manufacturing employment generally increases county wages in an average two-digit industry, this effect is more than seven times larger when the employment growth comes from a foreign firm, rather than a domestic one. On the budget side, we find that foreign employment leads to larger declines in per capita revenues and expenditures at the county level, and to significant redistribution of county expenditures away from public school funding and toward transportation and public safety.

Suggested Citation

  • David N. Figlio & Bruce A. Blonigen, 1999. "The Effects of Direct Foreign Investment on Local Communities," NBER Working Papers 7274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7274
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Morrisset, Jacques & Pirnia, Neda, 2000. "How tax policy and incentives affect foreign direct investment - a review," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2509, The World Bank.
    2. Louis T., Jr. Wells & Nancy J. Allen & Jacques Morisset & Neda Pirnia, 2001. "Using Tax Incentives to Compete for Foreign Investment : Are They Worth the Costs?," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13979.
    3. Sule Ozler & Erol Taymaz, 2004. "Does foreign ownership matter for survival and growth? Dynamics of competition and foreign direct investment," ERC Working Papers 0406, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Mar 2004.

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    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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