Institutions, Labor Mobility, and Foreign Direct Investment in China and India

  • Yu Zheng


Why did China and India, despite their similar natural factor endowments and growth trajectories, attract different types of FDI? This article shows that microlevel institutions in China and India, particularly a set of regulations governing labor and land markets, shape their domestic labor mobility and consequently affect their FDI patterns and development paths. China’s high labor mobility motivates foreign firms to concentrate in labor-intensive manufacturing and exploit the benefits of scale economies. India’s low labor mobility motivates foreign firms to move away from unskilled-labor-intensive manufacturing and invest in the modern service sector where the demand for skilled labor is relatively high.


China India Foreign direct investment Economic development Domestic institutions Labor mobility 



I am grateful for the financial support from the East Asian Institute's EAI Fellowship program and the India China Institute at the New School. I thank Mark Frazier, Stephan Haggard, Betty Hanson, Rosie Hsueh, Shiping Tang, Wenfang Tang, Vamsi Vakulabharnam, SCID editors and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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