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Does Information Break the Political Resource Curse? Experimental Evidence from Mozambique

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  • Alex Armand, Alexander Coutts, Pedro C. Vicente,IneÌ‚s Vilela

Abstract

The political resource curse is the idea that natural resources can lead to the deterioration of public policies through corruption and rent-seeking by those closest to political power. One prominent consequence is the emergence of conflict. This paper takes this theory to the data for the case of Mozambique, where a substantial discovery of natural gas recently took place. Focusing on the anticipation of a resource boom and the behavior of local political structures and communities, a large-scale field experiment was designed and implemented to follow the dissemination of information about the newly-discovered resources. Two types of treatments provided variation in the degree of dissemination: one with information targeting only local political leaders, the other with information and deliberation activities targeting communities at large. A wide variety of theory-driven outcomes is measured through surveys, behavioral activities, lab-in-the-field experiments, and georeferenced administrative data about local con- flict. Information given only to leaders increases elite capture and rent-seeking, while infor- mation and deliberation targeted at citizens increases mobilization and accountability-related outcomes, and decreases violence. While the political resource curse is likely to be in play, the dissemination of information to communities at large has a countervailing effect.

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  • Alex Armand, Alexander Coutts, Pedro C. Vicente,IneÌ‚s Vilela, 2019. "Does Information Break the Political Resource Curse? Experimental Evidence from Mozambique," NCID Working Papers 01/2019, Navarra Center for International Development, University of Navarra.
  • Handle: RePEc:nva:unnvaa:wp01-2019
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    File URL: http://ncid.unav.edu/en/research/working-papers/wp012019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Halvor Mehlum & Karl Moene & Ragnar Torvik, 2006. "Institutions and the Resource Curse," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 1-20, January.
    2. Mr. Giovanni Melina & Yi Xiong, 2013. "Natural Gas, Public Investment and Debt Sustainability in Mozambique," IMF Working Papers 2013/261, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Eoin McGuirk, 2013. "The illusory leader: natural resources, taxation and accountability," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 154(3), pages 285-313, March.
    4. McKenzie, David, 2012. "Beyond baseline and follow-up: The case for more T in experiments," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 210-221.
    5. Paler, Laura, 2013. "Keeping the Public Purse: An Experiment in Windfalls, Taxes, and the Incentives to Restrain Government," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 107(4), pages 706-725, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christa Brunnschweiler & Ishmael Edjekumhene & Paivi Lujala & Sabrina Scherzer, 2022. "You need to have this information: Using videos to increase demand for accountability on public revenue management," University of East Anglia School of Economics Working Paper Series 2022-10, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    2. Claudia Custodio & Bernardo Mendes & Diogo Mendes, 2021. "Firm responses to violent conflicts," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp2106, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Nova School of Business and Economics, NOVAFRICA.
    3. Grácio, Matilde & Vicente, Pedro C., 2021. "Information, get-out-the-vote messages, and peer influence: Causal effects on political behavior in Mozambique," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 151(C).
    4. Pedro C. Vicente & Ines Vilela, 2020. "Preventing violent Islamic radicalization: experimental evidence on anti-social behavior," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp2008, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Nova School of Business and Economics, NOVAFRICA.
    5. Alex Armand & Mattia Fracchia & Pedro C. Vicente, 2021. "Let’s call! Using the phone to increase acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp2113, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Nova School of Business and Economics, NOVAFRICA.
    6. Alfano, Marco & Goerlach, Joseph-Simon, 2022. "Terrorism, Media Coverage and Education: Evidence from Al-Shabaab Attacks in Kenya," IZA Discussion Papers 15298, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Armand, Alex & Coutts, Alexander & Vicente, Pedro C & Vilela, Inês, 2021. "Measuring corruption in the field using behavioral games," CEPR Discussion Papers 16596, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Cappelen, Alexander W. & Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge & Mmari, Donald & Sjursen, Ingrid Hoem & Tungodden, Bertil, 2021. "Understanding the resource curse: A large-scale experiment on corruption in Tanzania," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 129-157.
    9. Vicente, Pedro C. & Vilela, Inês, 2022. "Preventing Islamic radicalization: Experimental evidence on anti-social behavior," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 474-485.
    10. Islam,Asif Mohammed & Lederman,Daniel, 2020. "Data Transparency and Long-Run Growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9493, The World Bank.
    11. Victoire Girard & Nicolas Berman & Mathieu Couttenier, 2020. "Natural resources and the salience of ethnic identities," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp2007, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Nova School of Business and Economics, NOVAFRICA.
    12. Andersen, Jørgen Juel & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen, 2022. "The zero-rent society: Evidence from hydropower and petroleum windfalls in Norwegian local governments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 209(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Natural Resources; Curse; Natural Gas; Information; Deliberation; Rent-seeking; Mozambique.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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