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Foreign direct investment under weak rule of law : theory and evidence from China


  • Wang, Xiaozu
  • Xu, Lixin Colin
  • Zhu, Tian


This paper develops a self-enforcing contract model to show that better economic fundamentals can help when there is weak rule of law -- but with order -- to attract foreign direct investment, whereas lowering taxes does not necessarily help. Using a cross-region Chinese dataset, the analysis finds evidence consistent with the theoretical analysis. Regional variations in tax rates and the perceived quality of formal contracting institutions are not correlated with regional inflows of foreign direct investment, but leadership characteristics are. Most conventional economic factors have the predicted effects on foreign direct investment. The finding that foreign direct investment is lower in locations where domestic private firms have better access to finance and where the air quality is poor is new to the literature.

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  • Wang, Xiaozu & Xu, Lixin Colin & Zhu, Tian, 2011. "Foreign direct investment under weak rule of law : theory and evidence from China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5790, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5790

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Huang, Yasheng, 2007. "Ownership Biases and FDI in China: Evidence from Two Provinces," Business and Politics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 1-45, April.
    2. Dees, Stephane, 1998. "Foreign Direct Investment in China: Determinants and Effects," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 31(2-3), pages 175-194.
    3. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
    5. Bruce Blonigen, 2005. "A Review of the Empirical Literature on FDI Determinants," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 33(4), pages 383-403, December.
    6. Li, Hongbin & Zhou, Li-An, 2005. "Political turnover and economic performance: the incentive role of personnel control in China," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1743-1762, September.
    7. Moenius, Johannes & Berkowitz, Daniel, 2011. "Law, trade, and development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 451-460, November.
    8. Stein, Ernesto & Daude, Christian, 2007. "Longitude matters: Time zones and the location of foreign direct investment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 96-112, March.
    9. Yingqi Wei & Xiaming Liu & David Parker & Kirit Vaidya, 1999. "The Regional Distribution of Foreign Direct Investment in China," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(9), pages 857-867.
    10. Cletus C. Coughlin & Eran Segev, 2000. "Foreign Direct Investment in China: A Spatial Econometric Study," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 1-23, January.
    11. Laura Alfaro & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Vadym Volosovych, 2008. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries? An Empirical Investigation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 347-368, May.
    12. Mailath, George J. & Samuelson, Larry, 2006. "Repeated Games and Reputations: Long-Run Relationships," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195300796.
    13. Huang Yasheng, 2007. "Ownership Biases and FDI in China: Evidence from Two Provinces," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-47, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yerrabati, Sridevi & Hawkes, Denise Donna, 2016. "Institutions and Investment in the South and East Asia and Pacific Region: Evidence from Meta-Analysis," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 10, pages 1-48.
    2. Hawkes, Denise Donna & Yerrabati, Sridevi, 2015. "Institutions and investment in South and East Asia & Pacific region: Evidence from meta-analysis," Economics Discussion Papers 2015-62, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

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    Debt Markets; Emerging Markets; Investment and Investment Climate; Bankruptcy and Resolution of Financial Distress; Access to Finance;

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