NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Lixin Colin Xu

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Working Papers

January 2013Explaining Africa's (Dis)advantage
with Ann E. Harrison, Justin Yifu Lin: w18683
Africa’s economic performance has been widely viewed with pessimism. In this paper, we use firm-level data for around 80 countries to examine formal firm performance. Without controls, manufacturing African firms perform significantly worse than firms in other regions. They have lower productivity levels and growth rates, export less, and have lower investment rates. Once we control for geography, political competition and the business environment, formal African firms lead in productivity levels and growth. Africa’s conditional advantage is higher in low-tech than in high-tech manufacturing, and exists in manufacturing but not in services. The key factors explaining Africa’s disadvantage at the firm level are lack of infrastructure, access to finance, and political competition.
September 2007Institutions and Foreign Investment: China versus the World
with Joseph P.H. Fan, Randall Morck, Bernard Yeung: w13435
Weak institutions ought to deter foreign direction investment (FDI), and mass media stories highlight China's institutional deficiencies, yet China is now one of the world's largest FDI destinations. This incongruity characterizes China's paradoxical growth. Cross-country regressions show that China's FDI inflow is not exceptionally large, given the quality of its institutions and its economic track record. Institutions clearly determine a country's allure as an FDI destination, but standard measures of institutional quality can be problematic for countries undergoing rapid institutional development, and can usefully be augmented by economic track record measures. Deng Xiaoping's 1993 "southern tour" heralded sweeping reforms, and this regime shift is insufficiently reflected in commonly u...
November 2006Health Shocks, Village Elections, and Long-Term Income: Evidence from Rural China
with Li Gan, Yang Yao: w12686
Using a sample of households in 48 Chinese villages for the period 1986-2002, this paper studies the dynamic effects of major health shocks on household income and the role played by village elections in mitigating these effects. Our results show that in the first 15 years after a shock, a shock-hit household on average falls short of its normal income trajectory by 11.8% and its recovery would take 19 years. Based on the premise that shock-hit families impose negative externalities on richer families by borrowing from them, our political economy model predicts that the outcome of village elections would differ from that of a standard median voter model in that the elected village leaders tend to adopt pro-poor policies. Our empirical study finds that villages are more likely to establish ...
September 2005Eat, Drink, Firms and Government: An Investigation of Corruption from Entertainment and Travel Costs of Chinese Firms
with Hongbin Cai, Hanming Fang: w11592
Entertainment and Travel Costs (ETC) is a standard expenditure item for Chinese firms with an annual amount equal to about 20 percent of total wage bills. We use this objective accounting measure as a basis to analyze the composition of ETC and the effect of ETC on firm performance. We rely on the predictions from a simple but plausible model of managerial decision-making to identify components of ETC by examining how the total ETC responds to different environmental variables. In our empirical analysis we find strong evidence that firms. ETC consists of a mix that includes bribery to government officials both as %u201Cgrease money%u201D and %u201Cprotection money,%u201D expenditures to build relational capital with suppliers and clients, and managerial excesses. ETC overall has a signific...

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