GOVT 331 Ross - Does Oil Hinder Democracy

GOVT 331 Ross - Does Oil Hinder Democracy - DOES OIL HINDER...

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World Politics 53 (April 2001), 325–61 DOES OIL HINDER DEMOCRACY? By MICHAEL L. ROSS* I NTRODUCTION P OLITICAL scientists believe that oil has some very odd proper- ties. Many studies show that when incomes rise, governments tend to become more democratic. Yet some scholars imply there is an excep- tion to this rule: if rising incomes can be traced to a country’s oil wealth, they suggest, this democratizing effect will shrink or disappear. Does oil really have antidemocratic properties? What about other min- erals and other commodities? What might explain these effects? The claim that oil and democracy do not mix is often used by area specialists to explain why the high-income states of the Arab Middle East have not become democratic. If oil is truly at fault, this insight could help explain—and perhaps, predict—the political problems of oil exporters around the world, such as Nigeria, Indonesia, Venezuela, and the oil-rich states of Central Asia. If other minerals have similar prop- erties, this effect might help account for the absence or weakness of de- mocracy in dozens of additional states in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Yet the “oil impedes democracy” claim has received little attention outside the circle of Mideast scholars; moreover, it has not been carefully tested with regression analysis, ei- ther within or beyond the Middle East. I use pooled time-series cross-national data from 113 states between 1971 and 1997 to explore three aspects of the oil-impedes-democracy claim. The Frst is the claim’s validity: is it true? Although the claim has been championed by Mideast specialists, it is difFcult to test by examining only cases from the Middle East because the region provides scholars with * Previous versions of this article were presented to seminars at Princeton University, Yale Univer- sity, and the University of California, Los Angeles, and at the September 2000 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Washington, D.C. ±or their thoughtful comments on ear- lier drafts, I am grateful to Pradeep Chhibber, Indra de Soysa, Geoffrey Garrett, Phil Keefer, Steve Knack, Miriam Lowi, Ellen Lust-Okar, Lant Pritchett, Nicholas Sambanis, Jennifer Widner, Michael Woolcock, and three anonymous reviewers. I owe special thanks to Irfan Nooruddin for his research assistance and advice and to Colin Xu for his help with the Stata. I wrote this article while I was a vis- iting scholar at The World Bank in Washington, D.C. The views I express in this article, and all re- maining errors, are mine alone.
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little variation on the dependent variable: virtually all Mideast govern- ments have been authoritarian since gaining independence. Moreover, there are other plausible explanations for the absence of democracy in the Mideast, including the inFuence of Islam and the region’s distinct culture and colonial history. Does oil have a consistently negative inFuence on de- mocracy once one accounts for these and other variables?
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This note was uploaded on 02/25/2008 for the course GOVT 3313 taught by Professor Patel,david during the Spring '08 term at Cornell.

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GOVT 331 Ross - Does Oil Hinder Democracy - DOES OIL HINDER...

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