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Is the “curse of natural resources” really a curse?

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  • Pietro F. Peretto

Abstract

This paper takes a new look at the long-run implications of resource abundance. Using a Schumpeterian growth model that yields an analytical solution for the transition path, it derives conditions under which the curse of natural resources occurs and is in fact a curse, meaning that welfare falls, conditions under which it occurs but it is not a curse, meaning that growth slows down but welfare rises nevertheless, and conditions under which it does not occur at all. An effective way to summarize the results is to picture growth and welfare as hump-shaped functions of resource abundance. The property that the peak of growth occurs earlier than the peak of welfare captures the crucial role of initial consumption, which rises with resource abundance, and is an important reminder that the welfare effect of resource abundance depends on the whole path of consumption, not on a summary statistic of its slope. Growth regressions that ignore the endogeneity of initial income do not provide sufficient information to assess whether resource abundance is bad even if one could prove beyond reasonable doubt that the relation is indeed negative and causal. Recent evidence that the correlation is actually positive should make us even more skeptical of policy advice based on the curse logic.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 814577000000000164.

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Date of creation: 12 Mar 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:814577000000000164

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Cited by:
  1. Pietro F. Peretto & Simone Valente, 2011. "Growth on a Finite Planet: Resources, Technology and Population in the Long Run," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 11/147, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
  2. Karen Pittel & Lucas Bretschger, 2009. "The Implications of Heterogeneous Resource Intensities on Technical Change and Growth," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 09/120, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
  3. Lopez, Ramon E. & Stocking, Andrew, 2009. "Bringing Growth Theory "Down to Earth"," Working Papers 48944, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  4. Lederman, Daniel & Maloney, William F., 2008. "In search of the missing resource curse," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4766, The World Bank.
  5. Madsen, Jakob B., 2010. "The anatomy of growth in the OECD since 1870," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 753-767, September.
  6. Pietro F. Peretto & Simone Valente, 2010. "Resource Wealth, Innovation and Growth in the Global Economy," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 10/124, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.

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