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Demographics and FDI: Lessons from China’s One-Child Policy

Author

Listed:
  • Rajnish Mehra

    (National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi, Department of Economics, Arizona State University & NBER)

  • John Donaldson

    (Columbia Business School, Columbia University)

  • Christos Koulovatianos
  • Jian Li

    (Department of Economics, University of Luxembourg)

Abstract

Lucas (1990) argues that the neoclassical adjustment process fails to explain the relative paucity of FDI inflows from rich to poor countries. In this paper we consider a natural experiment: using China as the treated country and India as the control, we show that the dynamics of the relative FDI flows subsequent to the implementation of China’s one-child policy, as seen in the data, are consistent with neoclassical fundamentals. In particular, following the introduction of the one-child policy in China, the capital-labor (K/L) ratio of China increased relative to that of India, and, simultaneously, relative FDI inflows into China vs. India declined. These observations are explained in the context of a simple neoclassical OLG paradigm. The adjustment mechanism works as follows: the reduction in the (urban) labor force due to the one-child policy increases the savings per capita. This increases the K/L ratio and reduces the marginal product of capital (MPK). The reduction in MPK (relative to India) reduces the relative attractiveness of investment in China and is thus associated with lower FDI/GDP ratios. Our paper contributes to the nascent literature exploring demographic transitions and their effects on FDI flows.

Suggested Citation

  • Rajnish Mehra & John Donaldson & Christos Koulovatianos & Jian Li, 2018. "Demographics and FDI: Lessons from China’s One-Child Policy," NCAER Working Papers 112, National Council of Applied Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:nca:ncaerw:112
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Lucas paradox; capital-labor ratio; FDI-intensity; one-child policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical

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