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Rethinking the Resource Curse

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2021

Benjamin Smith
University of Florida
David Waldner
University of Virginia


This Element documents the diversity and dissensus of scholarship on the political resource curse, diagnoses its sources, and directs scholarly attention towards what the authors believe will be more fruitful avenues of future research. In the scholarship to date, there is substantial regional heterogeneity and substantial evidence denying the existence of a political resource curse. This dissensus is located in theory, measure, and research design, especially regarding measurement error and endogenous selection. The work then turns to strategies for reconnecting research on resource politics to the broader literature on democratic development. Finally, the results of the authors' own research is presented, showing that a set of historically contingent events in the Middle East and North Africa are at the root of what has been mistaken for a global political resource curse.
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Online ISBN: 9781108776837
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication: 22 April 2021

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