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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
  • Inês 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 conflict. Information given only to leaders increases elite capture and rent-seeking, while information 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Armand & Alexander Coutts & Pedro C. Vicente & Inês Vilela, 2019. "Does information break the political resource curse? Experimental evidence from Mozambique," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp1902, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia, NOVAFRICA.
  • Handle: RePEc:unl:novafr:wp1902
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    Keywords

    Natural Resources; Curse; Natural Gas; Information; Deliberation; Rent-seeking; Mozambique;

    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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