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The Pungent Smell of 'Red Herrings': subsoil assets, rents, volatility and the resource curse

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  • Rick van der Ploeg
  • Steven Poelhekke

Abstract

Brunnschweiler and Bulte (2008) provide cross-country evidence that the resource curse is a “red herring” once one corrects for endogeneity of resource exports and allows resource abundance affect growth. Their results show that resource exports are no longer significant while the value of subsoil assets has a significant positive effect on growth. But the World Bank measure of subsoil assets is proportional to current rents, and thus is also endogenous. Furthermore, their results suffer from an unfortunate data mishap, omitted variables bias, weakness of the instruments, violation of exclusion restrictions and misspecification error. Correcting for these issues and instrumenting resource exports with values of proven reserves at the beginning of the sample period, there is no evidence for the resource curse either and subsoil assets are no longer significant. However, the same evidence suggests that resource exports or rents boost growth in stable countries, but also make especially already volatile countries more volatile and thus indirectly worsen growth prospects. Ignoring the volatility channel may lead one to erroneously conclude that there is no effect of resources on growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Rick van der Ploeg & Steven Poelhekke, 2010. "The Pungent Smell of 'Red Herrings': subsoil assets, rents, volatility and the resource curse," OxCarre Working Papers 033, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:oxcrwp:033
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    resource curse; resource exports; resource rents; natural capital; subsoil assets; reserves; instrumental variables; volatility;

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development

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