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Capital Flight, Foreign Direct Investment and Natural Resources in Africa

Author

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  • Leonce Ndikumana

    (Department of Economics and PERI, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Mare Sarr

    (School of International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University)

Abstract

This paper provides theoretical and empirical insights into the puzzling simultaneous rise in foreign direct investment inflows in Africa and capital flight from the continent over the past decades. Indeed, paradoxically, even as African countries have become more attractive to foreign private capital, they have continued to experience capital exodus in the context of improved economic performance, especially since the turn of the century. This paper explores three questions. First, does foreign direct investment fuel capital flight as has been established in the case of external borrowing? In other words, is there an FDI-fueled capital flight phenomenon akin to debt-fueled capital flight? Second, is natural resource endowment a possible channel for the capital flight-FDI link, given that resource-rich countries tend to be both preferred destinations of FDI and prominent sources of capital flight? Third, does the quality of institutions mitigate the impact of natural resources on capital flight? The paper develops a theoretical model that conceptualizes these linkages and sets the stage for an econometric investigation of these questions. The results from econometric analysis based on a sample of 30 African countries over the period 1970-2015 show that FDI flows are positively related to capital flight, suggesting a possible FDI-fueled capital flight phenomenon. However, there is no evidence for an FDI overhang effect; past stock of FDI has no impact on capital flight. High natural resource rents are associated with high capital flight and the quality of institutions does not mitigate this link. The paper offers some policy insights derived from the empirical results.

Suggested Citation

  • Leonce Ndikumana & Mare Sarr, 2019. "Capital Flight, Foreign Direct Investment and Natural Resources in Africa," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2019-12, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2019-12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Hajer Dachraoui & Maamar Sebri & Mahmoud M. A. Dwedar, 2021. "Natural Resources and Illicit Financial Flows from BRICS Countries," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 1-13, March.
    6. Muhammad Farhan Bashir & Benjiang MA & Luqman Shahzad & Biao Liu & Qiangjia Ruan, 2021. "China's quest for economic dominance and energy consumption: Can Asian economies provide natural resources for the success of One Belt One Road?," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 42(3), pages 570-587, April.
    7. Canh, Nguyen Phuc & Schinckus, Christophe & Thanh, Su Dinh, 2020. "The natural resources rents: Is economic complexity a solution for resource curse?," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    capital flight; foreign direct investment; natural resources; Africa;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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