Resource Curse

‘Is There a Resource Curse for Private Liberties?’ International Studies Quarterly 62(4): 834-844 · 2018 [text & replication materials

Abstract: Scholarship on the political resource curse overwhelmingly focuses on whether oil wealth hinders the transition to democracy. In this note, I examine whether it oil wealth negatively affects the private rights of the individual. I argue that petroleum-rich governments are subject to less pressure to protect freedom of movement, freedom of religion, the right to property, and freedom from forced labor. In addition, they can use the windfall at their disposal to finance the enforcement of laws that restrict those rights. Based on a panel of 162 countries for the years 1932–2003, I find that petroleum wealth is negatively associated with private liberties. Using mediation analysis, I also find that most of the impact of oil wealth on private rights arises independently of its impact on the level of democracy. This indicates that the scope of the political resource curse extends beyond representation.

‘The Resource Curse and Child Mortality, 1961-2011’  Social Science & Medicine 176: 142-148 · March 2017 [full text]

Abstract: There is now an extensive literature on the adverse effect of petroleum wealth on the political, economic and social well-being of a country. In this study we examine whether the so-called resource curse extends to the health of children, as measured by under-five mortality. We argue that the type of revenue available to governments in petroleum-rich countries reduces their incentive to improve child health. Whereas the type of revenue available to governments in petroleum-poor countries, encourages policies designed to improve child health. In order to test that line of argument we employ a panel of 167 countries (all countries with populations above 250,000) for the years 1961 to 2011. We find robust evidence that petroleum-poor countries outperform petroleum-rich countries when it comes to reducing under-five mortality. This suggests that governments in oil abundant countries often fail to effectively use the resource windfall at their disposal to improve child health.