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The Constitutional Channels of the Resource Curse

by Jesper Roine (with A. Boschini and J. Pettersson), proceedings from "Meeting Global Challenges in Research Cooperation", Uppsala

Recent work on the so-called resource curse has focused on the importance of the interaction between institutional quality and resource abundance. The combination of low quality institutions and easily appropriable resources (such as oil and minerals) tend to be particularly bad for economic development. On the other hand, if institutions are good these same resources contribute more to economic growth than other types of natural wealth. While certainly pointing in the right direction this strand of literature leaves some open questions. First, it is vague on the precise channels through which institutional quality operates. Second, the empirical measures of institutions are often composite measures that arguably include measures of institutional outcomes rather than durable "rules of the game". Using data for the period 1970-2003, this paper study the extent to which combinations of resource-types and constitutional setup determine the degree of appropriative activity in a country. Our results show that parliamentary regimes and majoritarian electoral systems are associated with less (or no) resource curse-effect than are presidential and proportional electoral systems. These effects are particularly strong in countries having much ores, metals and fuels.

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