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Resource Curse or Not: A Question of Appropriability

by Jesper Roine (with A. Boschini and J. Pettersson), published in Scandinavian Journal of Economics

Whether natural resources are good or bad for a country's development are shown to depend on the interaction between institutional setting and, crucially, the types of resources possessed by the country. Some natural resources are, for economical and technical reasons, more likely to cause problems such as rent-seeking and conflicts than others. This potential problem can, however, be countered by good institutional quality. In contrast to the traditional resource curse hypothesis, we show the impact of natural resources on economic growth to be nonmonotonic in institutional quality, and increasingly so for certain types of resources. In particular, countries rich in minerals are cursed only if they have low-quality institutions, while the curse is reversed if institutions are sufficiently good. Furthermore, if countries are rich in diamonds and precious metals, these effects—both positive and negative—are larger.

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