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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

9 - Taking Domestic Politics Seriously


For reasons elaborated upon in Chapter 1, the literature on the resource curse has heretofore viewed ownership structure as a constant rather than a variable. In particular, this literature is characterized by a prevailing assumption that mineral wealth is always and necessarily state-owned and centrally controlled. Consequently, it has not invoked ownership structure as either a possible explanation for the empirical correlation between mineral abundance and a myriad of negative social, political and economic outcomes – poor economic performance, unbalanced growth, impoverished populations, weak states, and authoritarian regimes – or a possible remedy.

Yet the empirical reality is that ownership structure varies considerably both within and across mineral-rich states over time. If one takes a broader and more nuanced view, it becomes clear – at least regarding petroleum-rich states – not only that state ownership is not inevitable but also that it is accompanied by different degrees of state control. We provide such a view in Chapter 1 (see Figure 1.1) based on an original database of ownership structure in petroleum-rich states in the developing world from the late 1800s through 2005 (see Appendix B for details).

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