Boom and gloom: comparing diverse development outcomes among oil- and mineral-dependent developing countries
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This dissertation examines the contrasting development outcomes among countries in the Global South that depend on revenue from oil and mineral exploitation. According to the conventional "resource curse" perspective, developing countries rich in oil and minerals paradoxically suffer from poverty and underdevelopment. However, a closer look at these economies reveals substantial variation in their levels of economic and social development. Drawing on theories of globalization, development, and political sociology, this dissertation addresses: Why do some oil- and mineral-dependent developing countries end up with relatively high levels of development while others remain underdeveloped? To answer this question, my research uses a multimethod research design involving three phases and both quantitative and qualitative methods. The first phase draws on evidence from quantitative cross-section time-series regression analysis using national development data on 26 oil- and mineral-dependent developing countries for the period from 1985 to 2010. For the second phase, I conduct an in-depth comparative-historical analysis of two similar oil-rich developing countries with divergent development outcomes - Trinidad and Tobago, and Gabon - using more than 100 national documents and secondary sources that I collected during 13 months of fieldwork. In the third phase, I conduct abbreviated case studies of three mineral-dependent developing countries - Guyana, Niger, and Zambia - using secondary data. My explanation for why some countries outperform others consists of two nested claims. First, I find that strong state institutions matter the most for economic and social development, but, unlike previous studies, I also show that the negative impacts of dependence on foreign direct investment and foreign debt on development cannot be ignored. Therefore, the divergence in outcomes among these countries depends on a particular constellation and intersection of local and global factors. Second, the construction of strong state institutions is not solely driven by the legacies of European colonial agents, as is often cited in existing literature, but rather, by the strength of local labor movements. My dissertation thus provides critical intervention into broader debates within the development literature about the relative roles of natural resources, domestic political conditions, and global economic structures in effecting development.