IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Mineral wealth and human capital accumulation: a nonparametric approach


  • Jean-Philippe Stijns


This article uses a nonparametric approach to investigate the nexus between mineral wealth and human capital accumulation across countries. Higher mineral wealth is associated with elevated levels of human capital in a cross-section of countries. Matching the overall level of economic development and political instability and violence, weakens but does not reverse this conclusion. These results are economically significant. Moving up from the bottom to the top quartile for subsoil wealth per capita decreases illiteracy by ≈ 12% among young and adult females. Conversely, moving down from the top to the bottom quartile for subsoil wealth per capita decreases the average years of primary and total education by ≈ 1.5 years for females. Results are consistent with Hirschman's conjecture that enclave economies have weaker production linkages but stronger government revenue linkages than other activities. Most importantly, this article argues that caution should be exercised when discouraging countries from exploiting their mineral wealth, especially for countries where human capital is scarce. I know, [there is] no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of society, but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. Letter from Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition (Lipscomb and Bergh, eds), Vol. 15, Washington, D.C., 1903-1904, p. 278.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Philippe Stijns, 2009. "Mineral wealth and human capital accumulation: a nonparametric approach," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(23), pages 2925-2941.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:41:y:2009:i:23:p:2925-2941
    DOI: 10.1080/00036840601166900

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sachs, J-D & Warner, A-M, 1995. "Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," Papers 517a, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Blanco, Luisa & Grier, Robin, 2012. "Natural resource dependence and the accumulation of physical and human capital in Latin America," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 281-295.
    2. Gerhard Toews & Alexander Libman, 2017. "Getting Incentives Right: Human Capital Investment and Natural Resource Booms," Working Papers 370, Leibniz Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and Southeast European Studies).
    3. Lashitew, Addisu A. & Werker, Eric, 2020. "Do natural resources help or hinder development? Resource abundance, dependence, and the role of institutions," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:41:y:2009:i:23:p:2925-2941. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.