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The economic geography of foreign direct investment and human capital in Mexican regions

Ibarra-Olivo, J. Eduardo (2019) The economic geography of foreign direct investment and human capital in Mexican regions. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Economies around the globe are increasingly interconnected. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has become one of the main drivers of economic interdependence among regions across the world. FDI as a flow of capital across international boundaries is bound to have distinctive effects on the human capital accumulation process in both home and host economies, with important consequences for economic development. The aim of this thesis is to improve our understanding on the geography of two interrelated economic phenomena for Mexican subnational regions: FDI and Human Capital. Mexico has been an important recipient of inward FDI, but in the last two decades the services sector has been gaining importance over manufacturing, while the country has been increasingly sending flows of outward FDI to the rest of the world. Concurrently, wage inequalities persist, educational outcomes are lagging behind, and demand for skilled workers is decreasing. These changing trends and shifting balance have important implications for wages and the incentives to develop human capital at the local and regional scale in Mexico. Moreover, the aforementioned changes in FDI patterns, wages and human capital have occurred in a country where territorial disparities are still commonplace. Against this background, these papers explore several relationships between FDI and three dimensions of human capital accumulation, namely; wages, educational attainment, and skills. The first paper examines the effect of inward FDI on the wage gap between skilled and unskilled workers. Departing from these findings, the second paper analyses the effect of higher wages offered by multinationals on youth educational choices. The third paper explores the regional determinants of the recent internationalisation of Mexican firms, with particular attention to skills, productivity and innovation. Finally, the fourth paper explores the effects of outward FDI on the relative demand for skilled and unskilled workers. In order to empirically investigate the aforementioned relationships, I deploy a wide array of econometric techniques that allow me to provide quantitative estimates of the associations at hand. Particular attention is placed on endogeneity concerns that may lead to statistical biases on the evidence provided. By adopting a regional- and industry-level perspective, the present thesis hopes to shed some light on the effects of bidirectional FDI on various Human Capital dimensions. Policy implications drawn from the findings herein, are of paramount importance. Mexico has taken significant strides towards development; however, it still has a sizeable untapped economic potential. This and other empirical evidence should be duly considered if Mexico is to escape the middle-income trap.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 J. Eduardo Ibarra-Olivo
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés and Iammarino, Simona

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