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

  • Guriev, Sergei
  • Kolotilin, Anton
  • Sonin, Konstantin

In this paper we study nationalizations in the oil industry around the world in 1960-2002. 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 oil company. The government cannot commit to abstain from expropriation and the company cannot commit to pay high taxes. Even though nationalization is inefficient it does occur in equilibrium when oil prices are high. The model's predictions are consistent with the panel analysis of a comprehensive dataset on nationalizations in the oil industry since 1960. Nationalization is more likely to happen when oil prices are high and the quality of institutions is low even when controlling for country fixed effects.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6755.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6755
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  1. Thomas, J.P. & Worrall, T., 1991. "Foreign direct investment and the risk of expropriation," Discussion Paper 1991-26, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," Working papers 99-26, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
  6. 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.
  7. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, 09.
  8. W. J. Henisz, 2000. "The Institutional Environment for Economic Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 1-31, 03.
  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. Kobrin, Stephen J., 1980. "Foreign enterprise and forced divestment in LDCs," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 65-88, December.
  11. 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.
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