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Anarchy, State, and Dystopia: Venezuelan Economic Institutions before the Advent of Oil


  • Francisco Rodríguez

    () (Department of Economics, Wesleyan University)

  • Adam J. Gomolin

    () (School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley)


This paper studies the evolution of Venezuelan economic institutions before the emergence of oil exploitation in 1920. We argue that by 1920 Venezuela had developed a highly centralized state and a professionalized military. These two institutions ensured that growing oil revenues would strengthen the state structure and protected Venezuela from the resource-conflict trap into which many oil-abundant countries have fallen. We also argue that the failure to develop institutions that could mediate between sectoral demands and the state, the subordination of property rights to political imperatives and the political dominance of the commercial-financial elite conditioned the nation’s response to the post-1920 influx of oil revenues.

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  • Francisco Rodríguez & Adam J. Gomolin, 2006. "Anarchy, State, and Dystopia: Venezuelan Economic Institutions before the Advent of Oil," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2006-018, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wes:weswpa:2006-018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gilbert, Richard J., 1989. "Mobility barriers and the value of incumbency," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 475-535 Elsevier.
    2. Richard A. Miller, 2000. "Ten Cheaper Spades: Production Theory and Cost Curves in the Short Run," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(2), pages 119-130, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. William F. Maloney & Daniel Lederman, 2008. "In search of the Missing Resource Curse," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, vol. 0(Fall 2008), pages 1-57, August.

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