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Corruption, Development and the Curse of Natural Resources

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 June 2011

Shannon M. Pendergast
University of Victoria,
Judith A. Clarke*
University of Victoria,
G. Cornelis Van Kooten
University of Victoria,
Judith A Clarke, Department of Economics, University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 2Y2, Canada,


Abstract. Sachs and Warner (1995) found a negative relationship between natural resources and economic growth, concluding that natural resources are a curse. This explanation for poor economic growth is now widely accepted. We provide an alternative econometric framework for evaluating the resource curse. We focus on resource rents and rent-seeking behaviour, arguing that rent seeking affects corruption and that, in turn, impacts well-being. Our measure of well-being is the Human Development Index, although we find similar results for per capita GDP. While resource abundance does not directly impact economic development, we find that natural resources are associated with rent seeking that negatively affects well-being, with results robust to various model specifications and sensitivity analyses.

Résumé. Sachs et Warner (1995) ont observé une relation négative entre les ressources naturelles et la croissance économique et ils en ont conclu que les ressources naturelles étaient une malédiction. Cette explication de la faible croissance économique est maintenant largement acceptée. Nous offrons un cadre économétrique pour évaluer différemment cette malédiction des ressources. Nous nous concentrons sur les rentes tirées des ressources et sur la recherche de rente, en faisant valoir que la recherche de rente affecte la corruption, qui à son tour nuit au bien-être. Notre mesure du bien-être est l'indice de développement humain, même si nous trouvons des résultats similaires pour le PIB par habitant. Bien que l'abondance des ressources n'ait pas d'impact direct sur le développement économique, nous constatons que les ressources naturelles sont associées à la recherche de rente qui a une incidence négative sur le bien-être, comme en attestent nos résultats empiriques selon les diverses spécifications du modèle et des analyses de sensibilité.

Research Article
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association 2011

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