Resource Curse

Common sense would dictate that if you have an abundance of a valuable product, you can benefit financially through either trade or the free-market. Prior to the late 1980’s, the conventional wisdom concerning the relationship between a plentitude of natural resources and development was that it was advantageous for the state in question. It was conceived to not only be beneficial economically, but politically and socially as well. In the 1960’s, the prominent political theorist Walter Rostow went as far as saying that natural resource endowments would take an underdeveloped state through an industrial “take-off”. In general, natural resources were seen as a blessing for developing countries.

This “conventional wisdom” has since been challenged quite drastically. In fact, rather than being considered a blessing, access to a natural resource abundance is now widely accepted as being detrimental to the development of a state --- the exact opposite effect of what was considered to be fact before the late 1980’s. Often referred to “the Resource Curse”, states are left vulnerable to poor economic performance, higher levels of regimes and increased likelihood of Civil wars.  

Most Political Scientists would agree that underdeveloped or developing states are not nearly as civilized as devolved states. Comparing Sub-Sahara Africa to the United States, for example, is like comparing Apples to Oranges --- the structure is just not there. This is precisely why I believe that states with vast natural resources fall victims to the “Resource Curse” so frequently.

Having an abundance of natural resources gives more of a motive for the arrangement of rebel groups, and with the lack of a strong centralized government, civil wars can breakout quite easily. The wealth of natural resources prolong these civil wars, as the combatants are inclined to fight for resource-rich territories that would otherwise be of no value. Additionally, the corrupt political elites are often...