Rural Poor Economies and Foreign Investors: An Opportunity or a Risk?
Paolo Russu and
PLOS ONE, 2014, vol. 9, issue 12, 1-24
In the current age of commercial and financial openness, remote and poor local economies are becoming increasingly exposed to inflows of external capital. The new investors - enjoying lower credit constraints than local dwellers - might play a propulsive role in local development. At the same time, inflows of external capital can have negative impacts on local natural resource-dependent activities. We analyze a two-sector model where both sectors damage the environment, but only that of domestic producers relies on natural resources. We assess under which conditions the coexistence of the two sectors is compatible with sustainability, defined as convergence to a stationary state characterized by a positive stock of the natural resource. Moreover, we find that capital inflows can be stimulated by an increase in the pollution intensity of incoming activities, but also in the pollution intensity of the domestic sector; in both cases, capital inflows generate environmental degradation and a decrease in welfare for the local population. Finally, we show that a reduction in the cost of capital for external investors and the consequent capital inflows have the effect to increase wages, local investments and welfare of the local populations only if the environmental impact of the external sector is relatively low with respect to that of local activities. Otherwise, an unexpected scenario characterized by a reduction in domestic capital accumulation and the impoverishment of local agents can occur.
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