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The Oil Curse

The Oil Curse: How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Development of Nations

Michael L. Ross
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    The Oil Curse
    Book Description:

    Countries that are rich in petroleum have less democracy, less economic stability, and more frequent civil wars than countries without oil. What explains this oil curse? And can it be fixed? In this groundbreaking analysis, Michael L. Ross looks at how developing nations are shaped by their mineral wealth--and how they can turn oil from a curse into a blessing.

    Ross traces the oil curse to the upheaval of the 1970s, when oil prices soared and governments across the developing world seized control of their countries' oil industries. Before nationalization, the oil-rich countries looked much like the rest of the world; today, they are 50 percent more likely to be ruled by autocrats--and twice as likely to descend into civil war--than countries without oil.

    The Oil Curseshows why oil wealth typically creates less economic growth than it should; why it produces jobs for men but not women; and why it creates more problems in poor states than in rich ones. It also warns that the global thirst for petroleum is causing companies to drill in increasingly poor nations, which could further spread the oil curse.

    This landmark book explains why good geology often leads to bad governance, and how this can be changed.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4192-9
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Country Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE The Paradoxical Wealth of Nations
    (pp. 1-26)

    Since 1980, the developing world has become wealthier, more democratic, and more peaceful. Yet this is only true for countries without oil. The oil states—scattered across the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia—are no wealthier, or more democratic or peaceful, than they were three decades ago. Some are worse off. From 1980 to 2006, per capita incomes fell 6 percent in Venezuela, 45 percent in Gabon, and 85 percent in Iraq. Many oil producers—like Algeria, Angola, Colombia, Nigeria, Sudan, and again, Iraq—have been scarred by decades of civil war.

    These political and economic ailments constitute...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Trouble with Oil Revenues
    (pp. 27-62)

    Just as people are affected by the kinds of food they eat, governments are affected by the kinds of revenues they collect. Since most governments receive the same kinds of revenues year after year, it is easy to overlook their significance. Only when there is a sharp change in these revenues, such as when oil is discovered, does their underlying importance become clear.

    Oil revenues are marked by their exceptionally large size, unusual source, lack of stability, and secrecy. These four qualities reflect both the historic organization of the petroleum industry, and the revolutionary changes of the 1960s and 1970s...

  10. CHAPTER THREE More Petroleum, Less Democracy
    (pp. 63-110)

    In January 2011, prodemocracy protests broke out across the Middle East. For decades, the Middle East has had less democracy, and more oil, than any other world region. This is no coincidence: oil-funded rulers have long used their petrodollars to entrench themselves in power and block democratic reforms. Although protesters took to the streets in almost every Arab country, they found it much easier to overthrow rulers in oil-poor countries, like Tunisia and Egypt, than rulers in oil-rich states, like Libya, Bahrain, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia.

    Oil has not always been an impediment to democracy. Until the 1970s, oil producers...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Petroleum Perpetuates Patriarchy
    (pp. 111-144)

    As countries get richer, women typically gain more opportunities—both economic opportunities in the workplace, and political opportunities to serve in government. Yet this has not occurred in countries that get rich by selling petroleum. The benefits of oil booms usually go to men.

    This effect has been strongest in the Middle East, where there are fewer women in both the workforce and parliaments than in any other region in the world. The low status of Middle Eastern women is often blamed on the region’s Islamic, or Arab, heritage. But this explanation is faulty, or at least incomplete.

    Almost all...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Oil-Based Violence
    (pp. 145-188)

    Civil war is the greatest catastrophe that can beset a country. Between 1945 and 1999, over sixteen million people died in civil wars.¹ Economist Paul Collier describes civil war as “development in reverse.”²

    Since the early 1990s, oil-producing countries have been about 50 percent more likely than other countries to have civil wars. Among low- and middle-income countries, oil producers are more than twice as likely to have civil wars. Most oil-related conflicts are small, although a handful—such as the recent wars in Iraq, Angola, and Sudan—have been much bloodier. As oil is extracted from ever-poorer countries, the...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Oil, Economic Growth, and Political Institutions
    (pp. 189-222)

    In the 1950s and 1960s, most social scientists believed that natural resource wealth was good for economic growth: the mineral-rich states of Africa seemed to have a promising future but the mineral-poor states of East Asia would probably face great hardships. Yet by the mid-1990s, the opposite seemed to be true: the resource-poor states of East Asia had enjoyed decades of strong growth, while most of Africa’s resource-rich states were development failures. The oil-rich Middle Eastern states—which until the mid-1970s, had enjoyed spectacular growth—spent most of the 1980s and early 1990s losing ground. By 2005, at least half...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Good News and Bad News about Oil
    (pp. 223-254)

    This book analyzes half a century of data to produce a broad account of the politics and economics of oil wealth. It finds little evidence for some of the more dire claims in the resource curse literature: that extracting oil slows down a country’s economic growth, or makes governments weaker or less effective.¹ On some fronts, like reducing child mortality, the typical oil state has outpaced its non-oil neighbors.

    Yet this book also shows that since they nationalized their oil industries in the 1970s, oil-producing countries in the developing world have suffered from a series of political ailments: compared to...

  15. References
    (pp. 255-280)
  16. Index
    (pp. 281-289)