Making the Resource Curse Disappear: A re-examination of Haber and Menaldo’s “Do Natural Resources Fuel Authoritarianism"

Thursday, January 26, 2012
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Reuben W. Hills Conference Room
  • Michael Ross


Haber and Menaldo (2011) claim there is little evidence that oil is harmful to democracy, and that previous studies to the contrary were corrupted by omitted variable bias. Michael Ross professor of political science at UCLA will present findings from a paper co-authored with Jørgen Juel Andersen to show there is little evidence of the bias they allege, and point out that they decline to test the most credible version of the resource curse hypothesis.  The versions that they do test, moreover, are based on two implausible assumptions: that oil will effect a country’s regime type immediately, rather than over a period of several years; and that the relationship between oil wealth and political power did not change over the 200 year period covered by their data.  We argue that oil only had strong anti-democratic effects after the 1970s, when most oil-producing autocracies nationalized their industries; and show their main results are overturned when we add to their models a dummy variable for the post-1979 period, and allow the effects of oil to take place over a period of three, five, or seven years, instead of just one year.  

Speaker Bio: 

Michael L. Ross is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. 

He has published widely on the political and economic problems of resource-rich countries, civil war, democratization, and gender rights; his articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Annual Review of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, International Organization, Journal of Confiict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Politics and Gender, and World Politics.  In 2009, he received the Heinz Eulau Award from the American Political Science Association for the best article published in the American Political Science Review. 

His work has also appeard in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Harper's, The Los Angeles Times, and been featured in The Washington Post, Newsweek, and many other publications. 

Ross currently serves on the advisory boards of the Review Watch Institute, the Natural Resource Charter, and Clean Trade, and was previously a member of the Advisory Group for the World Bank's Extractive Industries Review.  He is also a member of the Political Instability Task Force and the APSA Task Force on Democracy Audits and Governmental Indicators.