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Resource Abundance, Political Corruption, and Instability of Democracy

  • Polterovich, Victor
  • Popov, Vladimir
  • Tonis, Alexander

In this paper we analyze data on sustainability of democratic regimes in resource rich countries and suggest a model to explain why resource abundance may lead to instability of democracy in some countries, but does not create any difficulties for a democratic system in other ones. Rate of resource rent tax is considered as the only policy instrument in our simple model. The tax affects the income of a representative voter. Choosing a tax rate, Autocrat competes with conventional Politician (a representative political party) for the office. Our model demonstrates the existence of a threshold for propensity to corruption (a measure of the institutional quality). The probability of the democracy preservation is decreasing in the amount of resources if the propensity is high and is independent of resources or even grows with the amount of resources if the propensity is low. It is shown also that Autocrat may use two types of policies depending on the qualities of governance (abilities to allocate tax revenues without big losses) that the public assigns to her and to Politician. More efficient Autocrat is inclined to follow populist high tax policy whereas lower Autocrat’s efficiency results in pro-Oligarch low tax policy when the country is resource abundant.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 19154.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19154
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  1. Brunnschweiler, Christa N., 2008. "Cursing the Blessings? Natural Resource Abundance, Institutions, and Economic Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 399-419, March.
  2. Stijns, Jean-Philippe C., 2005. "Natural resource abundance and economic growth revisited," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 107-130, June.
  3. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A & Yared, Pierre, 2005. "Income and Democracy," CEPR Discussion Papers 5273, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Warner, Andrew M., 1999. "The big push, natural resource booms and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 43-76, June.
  5. Halvor Mehlum & Karl Moene & Ragnar Torvik, 2004. "Institutions and the Resource Curse," DEGIT Conference Papers c009_012, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  6. Robinson, James A & Torvik, Ragnar & Verdier, Thierry, 2002. "Political Foundations of the Resource Curse," CEPR Discussion Papers 3422, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A & Verdier, Thierry, 2003. "Kleptocracy and Divide-and-Rule: A Model of Personal Rule," CEPR Discussion Papers 4059, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Akhmed Akhmedov & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2004. "Opportunistic Political Cycles: Test in a Young Democracy Setting," Economics Working Papers 0047, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  9. Torvik, Ragnar, 2002. "Natural resources, rent seeking and welfare," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 455-470, April.
  10. Rodriguez, Francisco & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 1999. " Why Do Resource-Abundant Economies Grow More Slowly?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 277-303, September.
  11. Clague, Christopher & Keefer, Philip & Knack, Stephen & Olson, Mancur, 1996. "Property and Contract Rights in Autocracies and Democracies," MPRA Paper 25720, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Polterovich, Victor & Popov, Vladimir, 2007. "Democratization, Quality of Institutions and Economic Growth," MPRA Paper 19152, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Michael Alexeev & Robert Conrad, 2009. "The Elusive Curse of Oil," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 586-598, August.
  14. Clague, Christopher, et al, 1996. " Property and Contract Rights in Autocracies and Democracies," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 243-76, June.
  15. Carlos Leite & Jens Weidmann, 1999. "Does Mother Nature Corrupt? Natural Resources, Corruption, and Economic Growth," IMF Working Papers 99/85, International Monetary Fund.
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