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Nature’s blessing or nature’s curse: the political economy of transition in resource-based economies


Author Info

  • Akram Esanov

    (University of Kansas)

  • Martin Raiser

    (European Bank of Reconstruction and Development)

  • Willem Buiter

    (European Bank of Reconstruction and Development)


The 15 newly independent states that emerged from the breakdown of the Soviet Union are now celebrating their 10th anniversary of independence. This paper looks back over the first decade and draws some lessons from the experience made to date. It focuses on the energy-rich states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), namely Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (AKTU for short) and contrasts their development to that in the resource-poor countries at the CIS periphery. The main argument of the paper is that far from being a blessing that would have allowed resource-rich countries to cushion the impact of reforms and thus make faster progress, resource rents have often been wasted or appropriated by the ruling elites. Progress in key structural reforms has in some cases lagged even behind other CIS countries and significant policy challenges need to be addressed if natural resource wealth is not to turn into a curse for the region.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist in its series Working Papers with number 66.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ebd:wpaper:66

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Cited by:
  1. Julian Lampietti, 2004. "Power's Promise : Electricity Reforms in Eastern Europe and Central Asia," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14936, August.
  2. Pomfret, Richard, 2012. "Resource management and transition in Central Asia, Azerbaijan and Mongolia," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 146-156.
  3. Yuko Kinoshita & Nauro F. Campos, 2003. "Why Does Fdi Go Where it Goes? New Evidence From the Transition Economies," IMF Working Papers 03/228, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Noland, Marcus & Son, Hyun H., 2012. "Editors’ introduction transitional economies: Progress and pitfalls," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 107-110.
  5. Robinson, Peter & Govereh, Jones & Ndlela, Daniel, 2007. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Zambia," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper, World Bank 48516, World Bank.
  6. Auty, R. M., 2003. "Third time lucky for Algeria? Integrating an industrializing oil-rich country into the global economy," Resources Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 37-47.
  7. Hamilton, Carl B, 2003. "Russia's European Economic Integration: Escapism and Realities," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 3840, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.


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