NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Policy Uncertainty and Private Investment in Developing Countries

Dani Rodrik

NBER Working Paper No. 2999
Issued in June 1989
NBER Program(s):   ITI   IFM

A resurgence in private investment is a necessary ingredient of a sustainable recovery in heavily-indebted developing countries. Policy reforms in these countries involve a serious dilemma, especially when they include structural and microeconomic features. On the one hand, entrepreneurs, workers, and farmers must respond to the signals generated by the reform for the new policies to be successful. On the other hand, rational behavior by the private sector calls for withholding investment until much of the residual uncertainty regarding the eventual success of the reform is eliminated. This paper shows that even moderate amounts of policy uncertainty can act as a hefty tax on investment, and that otherwise sensible reforms may prove damaging if they induce doubts as to their permanence. A simple model is developed to link policy uncertainty to the private investment response.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2999

Published: Journal of Development Economics, November 1991.

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