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date: 07 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the large and influential literature investigating the causal relationship between resource abundance and predatory state institutions, autocratic politics, and civil war. It emphasizes the diversity of findings and identifies an orthodox position positing an unmediated effect of resource abundance; a heterodox position contending that the relationship is mediated by important variables; and a heretical position that denies any systematic relationship between resource abundance and political-economic outcomes. The chapter then considers three key challenges to the main claim positing a relationship: problems of measurement, problems of properly specifying the relevant counterfactual, and problems of identifying causal mechanisms. It concludes that state institutions are largely exogenous to resource abundance and that theories of resource abundance should be incorporated into broader and more encompassing theories of state formation and its consequences.

Keywords: resource abundance, state institutions, autocratic politics, civil war, state formation

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