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Can More Be Less? An Experimental Test of the Resource Curse

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 August 2014

Omar Al-Ubaydli
Senior Fellow, Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies, PO Box 496, Manama, Bahrain; Affiliated Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA; Affiliated Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA; e-mail:
Kevin McCabe
Professor of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA; e-mail:
Peter Twieg
Graduate Student, Department of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA; e-mail:


Several scholars have argued that abundant natural resources can be harmful to economic performance under bad institutions and helpful when institutions are good. These arguments have either been theoretical or based on naturally occurring variation in natural resource wealth. We test this theory by using a laboratory experiment to reap the benefits of randomized control. We conduct this experiment in a virtual world (Second Life™) to make institutions more visceral. We find support for the theory.

Research Article
Copyright © The Experimental Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2014 

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