Does oil corrupt? Evidence from a natural experiment in West Africa
This paper explores the oil discovery announcements in Sao Tome and Principe (1997-1999) to assess the role of natural resources in determining corruption. For this purpose, we use a natural experiment framework which contrasts Sao Tome and Principe to Cape Verde, a control West African country sharing the same colonial past and important recent economic and political shocks. Our measurement is based on tailored household surveys we conducted in both island countries. The unique survey instrument was retrospective and used personal histories to elicit memories from the respondents. We analyze changes in perceived corruption across a wide range of public services and allocations. We find clearest increases on vote buying, education (namely in the allocation of scholarships) and customs, ranging from 31 to 40% of the subjective scale. We interpret these findings as symptoms of increased competition for core state resources.
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