The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper summarizes the theory and empirical evidence on the determinants of foreign direct investment. These determinants include expected relative rates of return, risk diversification, market size, technological advantage, market failure, oligopolistic rivalry, liquidity, currency strength, political instability, tax policy, and government regulations. While most explanations of foreign direct investment receive some empirical support, there is not sufficient favorable evidence on any one of them to merit rejection of all the others.