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Resource Windfalls, Political Regimes, and Political Stability

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  • Francesco Caselli
  • Andrea Tesei

Abstract

We study theoretically and empirically whether natural resource windfalls affect political regimes. We document the following regularities. Natural resource windfalls have no effect on the political system when they occur in democracies. However, windfalls have significant political consequences in autocracies. In particular, when an autocratic country receives a positive shock to its flow of resource rents it responds by becoming even more autocratic. Furthermore, there is heterogeneity in the response of autocracies. In deeply entrenched autocracies the effect of windfalls on politics is virtually nil, while in moderately entrenched autocracies windfalls significantly exacerbate the autocratic nature of the political system. To frame the empirical work we present a simple model in which political incumbents choose the degree of political contestability by deciding how much to spend on vote-buying, bullying, or outright repression. Potential challengers decide whether or not to try to unseat the incumbent and replace him. The model uncovers a reason for the asymmetric impact of resource windfalls on democracies and autocracies, as well as the differential impact within autocratic regimes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1091.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1091

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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Keywords: natural resources; elections; political accountability;

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  1. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Olsson, Ola, 2006. "Windfall Gains, Political Economy, and Economic Development," Working Papers in Economics 223, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  2. Timothy Besley & Masayuki Kudamatsu, 2006. "Health and Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 313-318, May.
  3. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Arvind Subramanian, 2013. "Addressing the Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration from Nigeria," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 22(4), pages 570-615, August.
  4. Antonio Ciccone, 2011. "Estimating the effect of transitory economic shocks on civil conflict," Economics Working Papers 1063, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  5. Kevin K. Tsui, 2011. "More Oil, Less Democracy: Evidence from Worldwide Crude Oil Discoveries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 89-115, March.
  6. Brückner, Markus & Ciccone, Antonio, 2008. "Rain and the Democratic Window of Opportunity," CEPR Discussion Papers 6691, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Paul J. Burke & Andrew Leigh, 2010. "Do output contractions trigger democratic change?," CEPR Discussion Papers 633, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  8. Barro, Robert J., 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Scholarly Articles 3451297, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Markus Brückner & Antonio Ciccone & Andrea Tesei, 2013. "Oil Price Shocks, Income, and Democracy," Working Papers 2013-18, FEDEA.
  10. Jonathan Isham & Michael Woolcock & Lant Pritchett & Gwen Busby, 2005. "The Varieties of Resource Experience: Natural Resource Export Structures and the Political Economy of Economic Growth," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 141-174.
  11. Michael Alexeev & Robert Conrad, 2009. "The Elusive Curse of Oil," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 586-598, August.
  12. Torvik, Ragnar, 2002. "Natural resources, rent seeking and welfare," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 455-470, April.
  13. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2006. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521855266, November.
  14. Francesco Caselli & Guy Michaels, 2009. "Do Oil Windfalls Improve Living Standards? Evidence from Brazil," NBER Working Papers 15550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Baland, Jean-Marie & Francois, Patrick, 2000. "Rent-seeking and resource booms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 527-542, April.
  16. David I. Harvey & Neil M. Kellard & Jakob B. Madsen & Mark E. Wohar, 2010. "The Prebisch-Singer Hypothesis: Four Centuries of Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 367-377, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Marcus Brückner & Antonio Ciccone & Andrea Tesei, 2011. "Oil price shocks, income and democracy," Economics Working Papers 1351, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Ahmed S. Mahmud & Giacomo De Luca & Juan F. Vargas, 2012. "The politics of resource booms," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 010082, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  3. Faizal Z. Ahmed & Eric Werker, 2012. "Unobserved State Fragility and the Political Transfer Problem," Harvard Business School Working Papers 13-009, Harvard Business School.

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