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Technical Paper: Structural Equation Modeling …

Structural Equation Modeling for the Determinants of International Infrastructure Investment: Evidence from Chinese Contractors

International infrastructure investment can effectively accelerate infrastructure development in developing countries and thus support their social and economic progress. However, little is known of the factors that may determine the flow of international infrastructure investment to those countries. This study aims to bridge that knowledge gap, first by identifying the determinants of international infrastructure investment, and then by developing a structural equation model to reveal their underlying interrelationships. The structural equation model is applied to country-level data regarding international infrastructure investment with Chinese contractors in 141 countries worldwide over the 9-year period from 2009 to 2017. The results show that three determinants, namely infrastructure quality, labor supply, and investment interdependency, have a positive relationship with a country’s international infrastructure investment inflow. However, another determinant, institutional environment, has a significantly negative impact, which suggests that when making foreign infrastructure investment, Chinese contractors enter countries with a comparatively poor institutional environment with substantial political risks. The results also highlight how much a robust infrastructure development plan can help developing countries avoid the poor-infrastructure trap, a situation in which poor infrastructure quality discourages international infrastructure investment. These research findings may assist international infrastructure investment firms to make informed decisions with regard to financing and managing projects and help policymakers who focus on attracting foreign investment in infrastructure.

“Structural..” was based on a collaboration with Professor Chris Lee and Yunhong Wang, a Ph.D. student from Tsinghua Univ who visited UW last year via the VISIT program.