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Curse or Blessing? Natural Resources and Human Development


  • José Pineda and Francisco Rodríguez

    () (Human Development Report Office, UNDP
    Human Development Report Office, UNDP)


This paper argues against a natural resource curse for human development. We find evidence that changes in human development from 1970 to 2005, proxied by changes in the Human Development Index, are positively and significantly correlated with natural resource abundance. While our results are consistent with those of other authors who have recently argued that natural resources do not adversely affect growth, we find strong evidence that natural resources have a positive effect on human development and particularly on its non-income dimensions. However, results from Latin America interactions show that the positive impact of natural resources in this region is significantly smaller than in the rest of the world. These results contribute to a broader discussion about the “resource curse” by showing that natural resources may be a blessing rather than a curse for human development, primarily through its effects on education and health rather than income.

Suggested Citation

  • José Pineda and Francisco Rodríguez, 2010. "Curse or Blessing? Natural Resources and Human Development," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-04, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • Handle: RePEc:hdr:papers:hdrp-2010-04

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pyatt, F Graham & Round, Jeffery I, 1979. "Accounting and Fixed Price Multipliers in a Social Accounting Matrix Framework," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(356), pages 850-873, December.
    2. Laia PIÉ DOLS & Maria LLOP LLOP, "undated". "Exogenous Income Determination in a SAM Model: the Catalan Economy towards the "20-20-20 European Directive"," EcoMod2010 259600133, EcoMod.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Latin America Sentence of the Day
      by Ariel Goldring in Free Market Mojo on 2010-06-30 15:49:25


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    Cited by:

    1. Castellacci, Fulvio & Natera, Jose Miguel, 2016. "Innovation, absorptive capacity and growth heterogeneity: Development paths in Latin America 1970–2010," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 27-42.
    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. Cuneyt Koyuncu & Rasim Yilmaz, 2013. "Impact of private forest ownership on deforestation and poverty," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 47(3), pages 1657-1664, April.
    4. Marc Badia-Miró & Cristián A. Ducoing, 2014. "The long run development of Chile and the Natural Resources curse. Linkages, policy and growth, 1850-1950," UB Economics Working Papers 2014/318, Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat d'Economia i Empresa, UB Economics.
    5. Pedro Concei ‹o & Ricardo Fuentes & Sebastian Levine, 2011. "Managing Natural Resources for Human Development in Low-Income Countries," UNDP Africa Policy Notes 2011-002, United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa.

    More about this item


    Natural resources; Growth; Development;

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies

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