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The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey

Jeffrey A. Frankel

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

February 5, 2010

HKS Working Paper No. RWP10-005

It is striking how often countries with oil or other natural resource wealth have failed to grow more rapidly than those without. This is the phenomenon known as the Natural Resource Curse. The principle is not confined to individual anecdotes or case studies, but has been borne out in econometric tests of the determinants of economic performance across a comprehensive sample of countries. The paper considers six aspects of commodity wealth, each of interest in its own right, but each also a channel that some have suggested could lead to sub-standard economic performance. They are: long-term trends in world commodity prices, volatility, crowding out of manufacturing, civil war, poor institutions, and the Dutch Disease. The paper concludes with a consideration of promising ideas for institutions that could help a country that is rich in, say, oil overcome the pitfalls of the Curse and achieve good economic performance. They include indexation of oil contracts, hedging of export proceeds, denomination of debt in terms of oil, Chile-style fiscal rules, a monetary target that emphasizes product prices, transparent commodity funds, and lump-sum distribution.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

Keywords: Natural Resources, Commodity Wealth, Econometrics

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Date posted: March 6, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Frankel, Jeffrey A., The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey (February 5, 2010). HKS Working Paper No. RWP10-005. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1565588 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1565588

Contact Information

Jeffrey A. Frankel (Contact Author)
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Mailbox 22
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-3834 (Phone)
617-496-5747 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/fs/jfrankel
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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References:  141
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