Institutions, the Resource Curse and the Collapse Hypothesis
University of California, Santa Barbara - Department of Economics; Resources for the Future; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center
April 10, 2012
In his influential and highly readable book Collapse, Jared Diamond claims that human-induced ecological and environmental degradation and the over-use of natural resources have caused civilizations to collapse. This paper examines the collapse thesis in light of recent research on the way natural resource abundance is linked to the economic and political paths societies follow — research on a phenomenon known as the natural resource curse. Countries with depleted environments tend to be economically poor and ill-governed, while those with better protected environments tend to be rich and democratic, so a correlation exists. However, evidence from the resource curse literature and other streams of research indicates that causation runs contrary to Diamond's thesis. Poverty and environmental degradation often are found in the same place because both are the consequence of dysfunctional governance.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: collapse, resource curse, institutions
JEL Classification: Q30, H10, D72
Date posted: April 16, 2012