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Diamonds Are a Rebel’s Best Friend

  • Olsson, Ola

    ()

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

Many countries that produce rough diamond have experienced a highly adverse pattern of economic development. In this article, we propose that the primary reason for the negative impact is that diamonds easily become the prize in predatory struggles between loot-seeking rebels and more or less kleptocratic governments. In weakly institutionalized countries like Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone, this theory works well, but it does not explain the impressive growth record of diamond-rich Botswana and Namibia. For a deeper understanding of these countries’ success, we point at the crucial differences between kimberlite and alluvial mining and the effect of having the world leading firm De Beers as a partner. Indeed, we argue that in countries like Angola, diamonds can never be a major vehicle for sustained growth, although the ongoing Kimberley process for eliminating conflict diamonds probably has contributed to making several African countries more stable.

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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 156.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 30 Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0156
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/

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  1. Halvor Mehlum & Karl Moene & Ragnar Torvik, 2004. "Institutions and the Resource Curse," DEGIT Conference Papers c009_012, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  2. Gylfason, Thorvaldur, 2001. "Natural resources, education, and economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 847-859, May.
  3. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2002. "An African Success Story: Botswana," CEPR Discussion Papers 3219, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Guidolin, Massimo & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2004. "Diamonds are Forever, Wars are Not: Is Conflict Bad for Private Firms?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4668, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Sachs, J-D & Warner, A-M, 1995. "Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," Papers 517a, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  6. Congdon Fors, Heather & Olsson, Ola, 2005. "Endogenous Institutional Change After Independence," Working Papers in Economics 163, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  7. Ola Olsson & Heather Congdon Fors, 2004. "Congo: The Prize of Predation," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 321-336, May.
  8. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-21, September.
  9. Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Warner, Andrew M., 2001. "The curse of natural resources," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 827-838, May.
  10. Grossman, Herschel I & Kim, Minseong, 1995. "Swords or Plowshares? A Theory of the Security of Claims to Property," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1275-88, December.
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