Foreign Direct Investment and Knowledge Diffusion in Poor Locations: Evidence from Ethiopia

Working Paper
Published on 1 March 2018

Abstract

Abebe et al. (2018) quantify foreign direct investment (FDI) spillovers by comparing changes in total factor productivity (TFP) among domestic plants in districts that attracted a large greenfield foreign plant and districts where greenfield FDI was licensed but not yet operational. Treated and untreated districts have similar trends in TFP prior to the opening of the large greenfield foreign plant. Over the four years starting with the year of the opening, TFP of domestic plants is 8% higher in treated districts. Using an alternative identification strategy that exploits the assignment of land for FDI by the Ethiopian Government, they obtain similar results. Foreign plants also attract new economic activity to treated districts. Exposure to foreign firms enhances domestic firms’: (i) production processes; (ii) managerial and organizational practices; (iii) logistics and; (iv) knowledge about exporting. Knowledge transfer is more likely among labor or vertically linked firms but also occurs outside these channels.

Authors

Girum Abebe

Ethiopian Development Research Institute

Margaret McMillan

Tufts University

Michel Serafinelli

University of Essex