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Diamonds Are a Rebel's Best Friend

  • Ola Olsson

Many countries that produce rough diamonds have experienced a highly adverse pattern of economic development. In this article, we propose that the primary reason for the negative impact is that diamonds easily become the prize in predatory struggles between loot-seeking rebels and more or less kleptocratic governments. In weakly institutionalised countries like Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, this theory works well, but it does not explain the impressive growth record of diamond-rich Botswana and Namibia. For a deeper understanding of these countries' success, we point at the crucial differences between kimberlite and alluvial mining and the effect of having the world-leading firm De Beers as a partner. Indeed, we argue that in countries like Angola, diamonds can never be a major vehicle for sustained growth, although the ongoing Kimberley process for eliminating conflict diamonds probably has contributed to making several African countries more stable. Copyright 2006 The Author Journal compilation 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal World Economy.

Volume (Year): 29 (2006)
Issue (Month): 8 (08)
Pages: 1133-1150

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Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:29:y:2006:i:8:p:1133-1150
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  1. Olsson, Ola & Congdon, Heather, 2003. "Congo: The Prize of Predation," Working Papers in Economics 97, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 30 Oct 2003.
  2. Massimo Guidolin & Eliana La Ferrara, 2006. "Diamonds are forever, wars are not. Is conflict bad for private firms?," Working Papers 2005-004, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  3. Gylfason, Thorvaldur, 2001. "Natural resources, education, and economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 847-859, May.
  4. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew M. Warner, 1995. "Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 5398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Halvor Mehlum & Karl Moene & Ragnar Torvik, 2006. "Institutions and the Resource Curse," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 1-20, 01.
  6. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-21, September.
  7. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2002. "An African Success Story: Botswana," CEPR Discussion Papers 3219, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Grossman, Herschel I & Kim, Minseong, 1995. "Swords or Plowshares? A Theory of the Security of Claims to Property," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1275-88, December.
  9. Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Warner, Andrew M., 2001. "The curse of natural resources," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 827-838, May.
  10. Congdon Fors, Heather & Olsson, Ola, 2007. "Endogenous institutional change after independence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(8), pages 1896-1921, November.
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