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Determinants of Nationalization in the Oil Sector: A Theory and Evidence from Panel Data

  • Sergei Guriev
  • Anton Kolotilin
  • Konstantin Sonin

In this article, we study nationalizations in the oil industry around the world during 1960--2006. We show, both theoretically and empirically, that governments are more likely to nationalize when oil prices are high and when political institutions are weak. We consider a simple dynamic model of the interaction between a government and a foreign-owned oil company. Even though nationalization is inefficient, it does occur in equilibrium when oil prices are high. The model's predictions are consistent with the analysis of panel data on nationalizations in the oil industry around the world since 1960. Nationalization is more likely to happen when oil prices are high and the quality of institutions is low, even controlling for country fixed effects. The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jleo/ewp011
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization.

Volume (Year): 27 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 301-323

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:27:y::i:2:p:301-323
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  1. Moran, Theodore H., 1973. "Transnational Strategies of Protection and Defense by Multinational Corporations: Spreading the Risk and Raising the Cost for Nationalization in Natural Resources," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(02), pages 273-287, March.
  2. W. J. Henisz, 2000. "The Institutional Environment for Economic Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 1-31, 03.
  3. Thomas, J. & Worrall, T., 1990. "Foreign Direct Investment And The Risk Of Expropriation," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 342, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1993. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," NBER Working Papers 4480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert S. Pindyck, 1999. "The Long-Run Evolutions of Energy Prices," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 1-27.
  6. Robert T. Deacon & Henning Bohn, 2000. "Ownership Risk, Investment, and the Use of Natural Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 526-549, June.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," Working papers 99-26, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Jonathan Levin, 2000. "Relational Incentive Contracts," Working Papers 01002, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  9. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2002. "Relational Contracts And The Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 39-84, February.
  10. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," NBER Working Papers 10568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kobrin, Stephen J., 1980. "Foreign enterprise and forced divestment in LDCs," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 65-88, December.
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