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Resource Curse or Debt Overhang?

  • Osmel Manzano
  • Roberto Rigobon

It has been widely believed that resource abundant economies grow less than other economies. In a very influential paper, Sachs and Warner (1997), point out that there is a negative relationship between resource abundance and growth. Two important econometric problems are present in the traditional empirical literature: First, the result might depend on factors that are correlated with primary exports but that have been excluded from the regression. Second, total GDP includes the production in the resource sector that has been declining in the last 30 years. We correct for those issues. Our results indicate that the so called 'Natural Resource Curse' might be related to a debt overhang. In the 70's when commodities' prices were high, natural resource abundant countries used them as collateral for debt. The 80's witnessed an important fall in the prices that drove these countries to debt crises. When we estimate the model taking these into account, we found that the effect of resource abundance disappears.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8390.

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Date of creation: Jul 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Lederman, Daniel and William F. Maloney (eds.) Natural Resources and Development: Are They a Curse? Are They Destiny? Stanford University Press, 2003.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8390
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
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  1. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew M. Warner, 1995. "Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 5398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Goverment," NBER Working Papers 6727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Summers, Robert & Heston, Alan, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950-1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-68, May.
  4. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
  5. Davis, Graham A., 1995. "Learning to love the Dutch disease: Evidence from the mineral economies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 1765-1779, October.
  6. Caselli, Francesco & Esquivel, Gerardo & Lefort, Fernando, 1996. " Reopening the Convergence Debate: A New Look at Cross-Country Growth Empirics," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 363-89, September.
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