a1 Harvard University
The notion of a “resource curse” has been most commonly applied in explaining why many countries apparently blessed with abundant reserves of nonrenewable mineral resources, such as Nigerian oil, Democratic Republic of Congo gold, or Sierra Leone diamonds, in fact, are commonly blighted with less transparency and probity, economic stability, economic diversification, social equality, and investment in human capital. In these conditions, the heightened danger of state capture and rent seeking by ruling elites generate poorer prospects for the transition from autocracy and the consolidation of stable democracies (Auty 1993; Boix 2003; Dunning 2008; Jensen and Wantchekon 2004; Ross 2001). Lootable mineral resources, in particular, are thought to make a country particularly vulnerable to civil war, insurgency, and rebellion (Collier and Sambanis 2005; Humphreys 2005; Ross 2004, 2006; Snyder 2006).
Pippa Norris is the McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at Harvard University and the author of more than three dozen books comparing gender politics, elections and public opinion, and political communications.