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Mineral resource abundance and violent political conflict: a critical assessment of the rentier state model

By Jonathan DiJohn


In this paper, Jonathan Di John critically examines the so-called 'rentier state' argument, the idea that abundance of natural resources causes poor growth, and raises the incidence, intensity and duration of conflict. The basic premise of the rentier state model is that rentier state leaders, by relying on 'unearned' income (in the form of mineral rents and/or aid), do not develop a set of reciprocal obligations with citizens via the nexus of domestic taxation. The model also posits that the more leaders can finance state activities through 'unearned' income, the more likely predatory behaviour, including violence, will follow. The author argues that mineral resource abundance does not determine politics in a systematic fashion and finds the empirical evidence that political violence is greater in mineral abundant poor economies unconvincing. The paper concludes with a brief discussion the policy implications of bringing politics back into the causes of war in less developed countries

Topics: HC Economic History and Conditions, JC Political theory, HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Publisher: Crisis States Research Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 2002
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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