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The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey

  • Frankel, Jeffrey A.

It is striking how often countries with oil or other natural resource wealth have failed to grow more rapidly than those without. This is the phenomenon known as the Natural Resource Curse. The principle is not confined to individual anecdotes or case studies, but has been borne out in econometric tests of the determinants of economic performance across a comprehensive sample of countries. The paper considers six aspects of commodity wealth, each of interest in its own right, but each also a channel that some have suggested could lead to sub-standard economic performance. They are: long-term trends in world commodity prices, volatility, crowding out of manufacturing, civil war, poor institutions, and the Dutch Disease. The paper concludes with a consideration of promising ideas for institutions that could help a country that is rich in, say, oil overcome the pitfalls of the Curse and achieve good economic performance. They include indexation of oil contracts, hedging of export proceeds, denomination of debt in terms of oil, Chile-style fiscal rules, a monetary target that emphasizes product prices, transparent commodity funds, and lump-sum distribution.

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Paper provided by Harvard Kennedy School of Government in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4454156.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Publication status: Published in HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:hrv:hksfac:4454156
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