The Resource Curse Puzzle Across Four Waves of Work

William Gochberg and Victor Menaldo. The Resource Curse Puzzle Across Four Waves of Work. The Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy (2016): 505-525.

While some countries have developed robust economies and high standards of living, along with stable and democratic political systems, others languish in poverty and are bedeviled by endemic corruption, authoritarianism, and violence. What explains this variation? The notion that there is a resource curse is perhaps the most counterintuitive and controversial hypothesis that has been tendered to address this question. Early work on the idea that oil and minerals doom countries to underdevelopment was largely inductive, building from observations made about Middle Eastern nations that experienced economic and political dysfunction in the face of bountiful resource endowments. The second wave includes authors who built stronger theories centered on the fiscal contract model of state building. The third wave saw scholars looking to establish the external validity of past claims about the resource curse using large-n data and statistical inference. Entries in the fourth wave share a strong focus on establishing causal inference. Within this set, a relatively recent group of scholars argues against the prevailing wisdom altogether. They cast doubt on the very existence of a resource curse.

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