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Resource Curse or Malthusian Trap? Evidence from Oil Discoveries and Extractions

  • Anca Cotet

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Ball State University)

  • Kevin K. Tsui

    ()

    (The John E. Walker Department of Economics, Clemson University)

This paper studies the effects of oil rent on development using a unique panel dataset describing worldwide oil discoveries and extractions. First, we revisit the so-called curse of oil, which contends that oil rent hinders economic development. Exploiting cross-country variations in the timing of oil discoveries and the size of initial oil in place, we find that, contrary to the oil-curse hypothesis, there is little robust evidence of a negative relationship between oil endowment and economic performance, even after controlling for initial income. Second, based on both cross-country and panel evidence, we find a robust association between oil abundance and population growth, which might suggest a Malthusian effect which reduces the economic growth measured in per capita GDP. We find some evidence that oil abundance increases fertility. On an accounting basis, however, migration plays an even more prominent role in explaining the oil-induced population growth. Furthermore, we show that focusing on material gain may understate the welfare gain from oil abundance, because relative to non-oil countries, oil-rich countries gain more in health improvements. These results suggest that despite the positive oil effect on population growth, oil-rich countries do not suffer from the Malthusian trap, and overall oil abundance is an economic blessing rather than a curse.

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File URL: http://econfac.iweb.bsu.edu/research/workingpapers/bsuecwp201001cotet.pdf
File Function: First version, December 2009
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Paper provided by Ball State University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 201001.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision: Mar 2010
Handle: RePEc:bsu:wpaper:201001
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Web page: http://www.bsu.edu/econ

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  1. Dan A. Black & Natalia Kolesnikova & Seth G. Sanders & Lowell J. Taylor, 2013. "Are Children “Normal”?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 21-33, March.
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  8. David E. Bloom & David Canning & G�nther Fink, 2014. "Disease and Development Revisited," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(6), pages 1355 - 1366.
  9. Benjamin, Daniel K & Kochin, Levis A, 1982. "A Proposition on Windfalls and Taxes When Some but Not All Resources Are Mobile," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(3), pages 393-404, July.
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  12. Timothy Besley & Masayuki Kudamatsu, 2006. "Health and Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 313-318, May.
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