The Political Resource Curse: An Empirical Re-Evaluation

Political Research Quarterly 67 (4):783-794 (2014)
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Extant theoretical work on the political resource curse implies that dependence on resource revenues should decrease autocracies’ likelihood of democratizing but not necessarily affect democracies’ chances of survival. Yet most previous empirical studies estimate models that are ill-suited to address this claim. We improve upon earlier studies, estimating a dynamic logit model that interacts a continuous measure of resource dependence with an indicator of regime type using data from 166 countries, covering the period from 1816-2006. We find that an increase in resource dependence at time t - 1 increases the likelihood of autocratic persistence at t, but has no appreciable effect on democratic survival. We go beyond existing empirical studies to show that increases in resource dependence have persistent and substantial cumulative effects on autocracies' likelihood of becoming democratic over the long-term, showing that the total effect of resource dependence on regime type is much larger than the short-term (one period) effect indicates.

Author's Profile

David Wiens
University of California, San Diego


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