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Revisiting the Resource Curse: Natural Disasters, the Price of Oil, and Democracy


  • Ramsay, Kristopher W.


Fluctuations in the price of oil and the contemporaneous political changes in oil-producing countries have raised an important question about the link between oil rents, political institutions, and civil liberties. This article presents a simple model of the relationship between resource income and political freedom and, using an instrumental variables approach, estimates the causal effect of shocks to oil revenues on levels of democracy. Using a new data set, multiple measures of democracy, and various specifications, I find that the effect of oil price shocks is larger than might be expected and on the order of the effects found from changes in gross domestic product.

Suggested Citation

  • Ramsay, Kristopher W., 2011. "Revisiting the Resource Curse: Natural Disasters, the Price of Oil, and Democracy," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(3), pages 507-529, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:65:y:2011:i:03:p:507-529_00

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    Blog mentions

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    1. Sam Watson’s journal round-up for 27th May 2019
      by Sam Watson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2019-05-27 12:14:36


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    Cited by:

    1. Wigley, Simon, 2017. "The resource curse and child mortality, 1961–2011," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 142-148.
    2. Indra de Soysa & Tim Krieger & Daniel Meierrieks, 2020. "Oil Wealth and Property Rights," CESifo Working Paper Series 8319, CESifo.
    3. Nouf Alsharif & Sambit Bhattacharyya & Maurizio Intartaglia, 2016. "Economic Diversification in Resource Rich Countries: Uncovering the State of Knowledge," Working Paper Series 09816, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    4. Thorvaldur Gylfason, 2017. "From Double Diversification to Efficiency and Growth," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 59(2), pages 149-168, June.
    5. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2017. "A critical survey of the resource curse literature through the appropriability lens," CEPN Working Papers hal-01583559, HAL.
    6. Zakharov, Nikita, 2020. "Asymmetric oil price shocks, tax revenues, and the resource curse," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 186(C).
    7. Bakaki Zorzeta, 2016. "Fossil Fuel Rents: Who Initiates International Crises?," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 22(2), pages 173-190, April.
    8. Rehman, Faiz Ur & Vanin, Paolo, 2017. "Terrorism risk and democratic preferences in Pakistan," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 95-106.
    9. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2018. "The resource curse literature as seen through the appropriability lens: a critical survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 175(3), pages 393-428, June.
    10. Cullen S. Hendrix, 2014. "Oil Prices and Interstate Conflict Behavior," Working Paper Series WP14-3, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    11. Wang, Minggang & Zhao, Longfeng & Du, Ruijin & Wang, Chao & Chen, Lin & Tian, Lixin & Eugene Stanley, H., 2018. "A novel hybrid method of forecasting crude oil prices using complex network science and artificial intelligence algorithms," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 220(C), pages 480-495.
    12. Carreri, Maria & Dube, Oeindrila, 2016. "Do Natural Resources Influence Who Comes to Power, and How?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11136, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Yessengali Oskenbayev & Aziz Karimov, 2013. "Is Kazakhstan Vulnerable to Natural Resource Curse?," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2013-130, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    14. Ishak Phoebe W., 2019. "Autocratic Survival Strategies: Does Oil Make a Difference?," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 25(2), pages 1-22, May.
    15. Keller, Michael, 2020. "Wasted windfalls: Inefficiencies in health care spending in oil rich countries," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C).
    16. Chen, Yanhui & Zhang, Chuan & He, Kaijian & Zheng, Aibing, 2018. "Multi-step-ahead crude oil price forecasting using a hybrid grey wave model," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 501(C), pages 98-110.
    17. Morten Endrikat, 2017. "Natural resource rents, autocracy and the composition of government spending," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201727, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    18. Nouf Alsharif & Sambit Bhattacharyya & Maurizio Intartaglia, 2016. "Economic Diversification in Resource Rich Countries: Uncovering the State of Knowledge," Working Paper Series 9816, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    19. Qingyuan Du & Shang-Jin Wei & Peichu Xie, 2013. "Roads and the Real Exchange Rate," NBER Working Papers 19291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Prichard, Wilson & Salardi, Paola & Segal, Paul, 2018. "Taxation, non-tax revenue and democracy: New evidence using new cross-country data," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 295-312.

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