Abstract

We estimate international technology spillovers to U.S. manufacturing firms via imports and foreign direct investment (FDI) between 1987 and 1996. In contrast to earlier work, our results suggest that FDI leads to substantial productivity gains for domestic firms. The size of FDI spillovers is economically important, accounting for about 14% of productivity growth in U.S. firms between 1987 and 1996. FDI spillovers are particularly strong in high-tech sectors, whereas they are largely absent in low-tech sectors. Small firms with low productivity benefit more from FDI spillovers than larger productivity firms with more productivity do. The evidence for import spillovers is much weaker.

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