When Does Natural Resource Abundance Lead to a Resource Curse?

This paper looks at the relationship between natural resource endowment, particularly the type associated with minerals and plantations, and economic development. It may not be natural resource endowment per se but its type that matters, when it comes to growth and development. Certain types of natural resources such as oil and minerals have a tendency to lead to production and revenue patterns that are concentrated, while revenue flows from other types of resources such as agriculture are more diffused throughout the economy. The former category is dubbed a point-source economies, while the latter type is referred to as diffuse. Most countries in the first group have been prone to growth failure in recent times, with notable exceptions such as Botswana and Indonesia. The paper reviews two sets of models, the first set outlining the onset of the resource curse, and the second category sketching conditions where resource booms actually aid growth, or policies to avoid the resource curse. The vast majority of these models stress intersectoral linkages. Political economy considerations associated with resource rents are also reviewed. The focus is on institutions that determine the policy superstructure. The importance of institutions is highlighted, followed by a sketch of institutional malfunctioning and an overview of the empirical models of institutional determination. An explicit model of growth collapse with micro-foundations in rent-seeking behaviour and contests is also presented. The empirical analysis put forward is one of the few econometric investigations into the resource curse that includes analysis over time, as it is a panel data estimation. Due to this time series property our proxy for institutional quality is the degree of democracy. Our findings suggest that a point-source type natural resource endowment does retard democratic and institutional development, which in turn hampers economic growth. Institutions and institutional functioning are the crucial link between resource endowments, geography and policies, on the one hand and economic outcomes on the other hand.

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Environmental Economics Programme Discussion Paper 04-01

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-24

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