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Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Jeffrey A. Frankel
James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth
phone: (617)496-3834
fax: (617)496-5747
The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey
Frankel, Jeffrey A. "The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series, NBER Working Papers, and Center for International Development Working Paper (RWP10-005, 15836, 195) February 2010.
Abstract
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.
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