Do Natural Resources Influence Who Comes to Power, and How?

Do Natural Resources Influence Who Comes to Power, and How?

Source: The Journal of Politics, 2017

Author(s): Maria Carreri and Oeindrilla Dube

Countries: Colombia

Topics: Extractive Resources, Governance

Added: 07/05/2017

 

Do natural resources impair institutional outcomes? Existing work studies how natural resources influence the behavior of leaders in power. We study how they influence leaders’ rise to power. Our analysis focuses on oil price shocks and local democracy in Colombia, a country mired in civil conflict. We find that when the price of oil rises, legislators affiliated with right-wing paramilitary groups win office more in oil-producing municipalities. Consistent with the use of force to gain power, positive price shocks also induce an increase in paramilitary violence and reduce electoral competition: fewer candidates run for office, and winners are elected with a wider vote margin. Ultimately, fewer centrist legislators are elected to office, and there is diminished representation at the center. Our findings highlight how natural resources undermine democracy by distorting elections and suggest that conflict leaves the political sector vulnerable to the resource curse.

 

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