Q&A: Historical Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Statistics


I am looking for historical data about levels of foreign direct investment, particularly investments made by the various colonial powers in their colonies.


Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is collected in many places and by many government agencies, primarily the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the World Bank, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). For the historical data, you'll want to use Direction of Trade Statistics Historical (1948-1980) available on CDROM in Data Services in the Velma Denning Room on the first floor of Green.

Here are some other routes to explore:

For U.S. sources, try the following:

Most of the above can be found in EconLit or Google Scholar using phrases like "FDI" and "direction of trade".

One final note: If you go back into colonial history much before 1945, the concept of Foreign Direct Investment doesn't really apply as a form of statistical analysis. However, there is a large body of scholarly work on the economics of colonies. A general Subject keyword search of Socrates for "economic" and "colonies" yields many books about the economic history of imperialism and colonialism, plus monographs on specific colonies of the various European powers.