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Political Foundations of the Resource Curse

  • Robinson, James A
  • Torvik, Ragnar
  • Verdier, Thierry

In this Paper we argue that the political incentives that resource endowments generate are the key to understanding whether or not they are a curse. We show: (1) politicians tend to over-extract natural resources relative to the efficient extraction path because they discount the future too much; (2) resource booms improve the efficiency of the extraction path; (3) resource booms, however, by raising the value of being in power and by providing politicians with more resources which they can use to influence the outcome of elections, increase resource misallocation in the rest of the economy and (4) the overall impact of resource booms on the economy depends critically on institutions, since these determine the extent to which political incentives map into policy outcomes. Countries with good institutions tend to benefit from resource booms since these institutions mitigate the perverse political incentives that such booms create. Countries with bad institutions suffer a resource curse.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3422.

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Date of creation: Jun 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3422
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  1. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Why Not a Political Coase Theorem? Social Conflict, Commitment and Politics," NBER Working Papers 9377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. James A. Robinson & Thierry Verdier, 2013. "The Political Economy of Clientelism," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(2), pages 260-291, 04.
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  8. Halvor Mehlum & Karl Moene & Ragnar Torvik, 2004. "Institutions and the Resource Curse," DEGIT Conference Papers c009_012, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  9. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1998. "Redistributive Public Employment," NBER Working Papers 6746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1995. "Institutions and Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Indicators," MPRA Paper 23118, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-56, March.
  12. Boschini, Anne & Pettersson, Jan & Roine, Jesper, 2003. "Resource curse or not: A question of appropriability," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 534, Stockholm School of Economics.
  13. Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Warner, Andrew M., 1999. "The big push, natural resource booms and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 43-76, June.
  14. Jonathan Isham & Michael Woolcock & Lant Pritchett & Gwen Busby, 2003. "The Varieties of Resource Experience: How Natural Resource Export Structures Affect the Political Economy of Economic Growth," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0308, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  15. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
  16. Rauch, James E & Evans, Peter B., 1999. "Bureaucratic Structure and Bureaucratic Performance in Less Developed Countries," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt0sb0w38d, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  17. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2002. "An African Success Story: Botswana," CEPR Discussion Papers 3219, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Robinson, James A. & Torvik, Ragnar & Verdier, Thierry, 2006. "Political foundations of the resource curse," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 447-468, April.
  19. Lal, Deepak & Myint, H., 1998. "The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity and Growth: A Comparative Study," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198294320, March.
  20. Torvik, Ragnar, 2001. "Learning by doing and the Dutch disease," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 285-306, February.
  21. Baland, Jean-Marie & Francois, Patrick, 2000. "Rent-seeking and resource booms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 527-542, April.
  22. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1999. "Inefficient Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 2122, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Robinson, James A & Torvik, Ragnar, 2002. "White Elephants," CEPR Discussion Papers 3459, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. Torvik, Ragnar, 2002. "Natural resources, rent seeking and welfare," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 455-470, April.
  25. Bates, Robert H & Collier, Paul, 1995. "The Politics and Economics of Policy Reform in Zambia," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 4(1), pages 115-43, May.
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