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The Oil Curse:
How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Development of Nations
Michael L. Ross

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012

Paperback | 2013 | $24.95 | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691159638
312 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 46 line illus. 31 tables.
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Countries that are rich in petroleum have less democracy, less economic stability, and more frequent civil wars than countries without oil. What explains this oil curse? And can it be fixed? In this groundbreaking analysis, Michael L. Ross looks at how developing nations are shaped by their mineral wealth--and how they can turn oil from a curse into a blessing.

Ross traces the oil curse to the upheaval of the 1970s, when oil prices soared and governments across the developing world seized control of their countries' oil industries. Before nationalization, the oil-rich countries looked much like the rest of the world; today, they are 50 percent more likely to be ruled by autocrats--and twice as likely to descend into civil war--than countries without oil.

The Oil Curse shows why oil wealth typically creates less economic growth than it should; why it produces jobs for men but not women; and why it creates more problems in poor states than in rich ones. It also warns that the global thirst for petroleum is causing companies to drill in increasingly poor nations, which could further spread the oil curse.

This landmark book explains why good geology often leads to bad governance, and how this can be changed.


"Economists have mostly shied away from full costings of the ecological and social devastation of oil use. Were they to do so with thoroughness and authority displayed by Ross in The Oil Curse, they might start to develop the new economic model for oil and other extractive industries that is so desperately needed."--John Vidal, Nature

"[P]articularly timely. . . . Ross has an easy style and his central points are made clearly."--Ed Crooks, Financial Times

"[A]n excellent book."--Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

"The Oil Curse leads us into the hidden world of the oil business. It presents some surprising discoveries and provides important information in a very accessible way. It is the most up-to-date book on a timely and important topic."--Lisa Kaaki, Arab News

"[S]tunning."--Johnny West, Huffington Post UK

"Ross [is] to be applauded for advancing the conversation beyond reveling in the history of human extraction of resources to expressing sorrow for the negative impacts of mineral rushes, which most social science books in this genre tend to follow. . . . Cautionary narratives such as th[is] . . . are important for engineers and chemists to read to further hasten the search for solutions to resource scarcity dilemmas."--Saleem H. Ali, Chemical & Engineering News

"Much has been written about the topic of how oil wealth hampers economic development as well as the building of institutions, but this book will help introduce a much wider audience to this issue. Ross has produced a comprehensive examination of the oil curse, analyzing data from 170 countries. . . . [T]his is a valuable and accessible study of an important topic."--Choice

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Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix
List of Tables xi
Preface xiii
Abbreviations xvii
Country Abbreviations xix
Chapter One: The Paradoxical Wealth of Nations 1
Appendix 1.1 A Note on Methods and Measurements 14
Chapter Two: The Trouble with Oil Revenues 27
Chapter Three: More Petroleum, Less Democracy 63
Appendix 3.1 A Statistical Analysis of Oil and Democracy 93
Chapter Four: Petroleum Perpetuates Patriarchy 111
Appendix 4.1 A Statistical Analysis of Oil and the Status of Women 132
Chapter Five: Oil-Based Violence 145
Appendix 5.1 A Statistical Analysis of Oil and Civil Conflict 178
Chapter Six: Oil, Economic Growth, and Political Institutions 189
Chapter Seven: Good News and Bad News about Oil 223
References 255
Index 281

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