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Escaping the Resource Curse (Initiative for Policy Dialogue) [Hardcover]

Macartan Humphreys , Jeffrey D. Sachs , Joseph E. Stiglitz
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 22, 2007 0231141963 978-0231141963

The wealth derived from natural resources can have a tremendous impact on the economics and politics of producing countries. In the last quarter century, we have seen the surprising and sobering consequences of this wealth, producing what is now known as the "resource curse." Countries with large endowments of natural resources, such as oil and gas, often do worse than their poorer neighbors. Their resource wealth frequently leads to lower growth rates, greater volatility, more corruption, and, in extreme cases, devastating civil wars.

In this volume, leading economists, lawyers, and political scientists address the fundamental channels generated by this wealth and examine the major decisions a country must make when faced with an abundance of a natural resource. They identify such problems as asymmetric bargaining power, limited access to information, the failure to engage in long-term planning, weak institutional structures, and missing mechanisms of accountability. They also provide a series of solutions, including recommendations for contracting with oil companies and allocating revenue; guidelines for negotiators; models for optimal auctions; and strategies to strengthen state-society linkages and public accountability.

The contributors show that solutions to the resource curse do exist; yet, institutional innovations are necessary to align the incentives of key domestic and international actors, and this requires fundamental political changes and much greater levels of transparency than currently exist. It is becoming increasingly clear that past policies have not provided the benefits they promised. Escaping the Resource Curse lays out a path for radically improving the management of the world's natural resources.

Frequently Bought Together

Escaping the Resource Curse (Initiative for Policy Dialogue) + The Paradox of Plenty: Oil Booms and Petro-States (Studies in International Political Economy) + The Oil Curse: How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Development of Nations
Price for all three: $69.92

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Editorial Reviews


This is a timely and important contribution to the debate on the so-called resource curse and how to avoid it -- especially important in a time of concern about energy security and sustainable economic development. As someone who witnesses first hand the struggle for more transparency and good governance in the global energy business, I welcome the fresh, thought-provoking, and always illuminating insights offered in this collection of essays.

(Lord Browne, Group Chief Executive, BP (British Petroleum))

This is a timely and important effort to throw light on and seek solutions to the phenomenon of the 'resource curse' whose effects have contributed to keeping millions of people impoverished despite the wealth of their countries. It should be an essential handbook for policy makers in all oil-rich countries.

(Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs for Nigeria)

A primer on ways governments and multinationals can ensure that resource wealth becomes not a curse but rather a source of sustained wealth.

(Canadian Business)


This book offers practical policy solutions to the resource curse—a problem affecting the lives of millions and millions of people. It represents an extraordinary contribution and will become a reference for scholars and policy makers seeking to tackle this devastating issue.

(George Soros, Chairman and Founder of the Open Society Group)

Product Details

  • Series: Initiative for Policy Dialogue
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (May 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231141963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231141963
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oil as curse December 2, 2008
This valuable book by leading economists makes an uncompromising case for doing something, immediately, about the devastating effects of international resource extraction on nations and their economies. The book focuses almost exclusively on oil. Certainly, the national and international oil corporations have much to answer for, including massive corruption, local wars, unbelievable levels of environmental rapine and wreckage, and above all massive political distortion in the direction of totalitarianism and non-transparency. The picture that gradually emerges is not pretty. Big Oil is the de facto ruler of several countries, and they are typically totalitarian and characterized by considerable inequity; many are violence-torn. In a few countries, however, national governments have been able to control their oil and their oil industries. Norway and Scotland may have had an easy time because of age-old social institutions that gave them leverage, but the surprising success of places like Oman at dealing with oil deserves more attention.
The book is best at detailing economic and political-economic solutions, starting with transparency, which many of the authors argue is the most basic need. Authors discuss economic problems and benefits with oil funds (as in Alaska), various kinds of contracts, various ownership systems, and various types of rule systems.
This book is basic, and sobering, reading for anyone who worries about the global economy. It is also basic and sobering for anyone who believes that "the free market" or anything resembling it operates in today's world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good purchase May 9, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good and interesting book! Its is an interesting mix of economic, political and regulatory issues applicable to the oil industry that a policy maker should compulsory read.
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