Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Lifting the Curse: Distribution and Power in Petro-States
by Kennedy, Ryan, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2008, 358; 10631096
Abstract (Summary)

While the empirical correlation between fuel exports and authoritarianism has become conventional wisdom, influencing academics and policy-makers, the answer for why fuel exporters tend to be more authoritarian has remained elusive. This study proposes a model based on the increased importance of government decision-making in determining the distribution of economic goods in societies that are dependent on fuel exports. These increases in government distribution, as a result of fuel development revenues primarily accruing to the state, take on three forms: direct payments and subsidization, government ownership of industry, and a more arbitrary enforcement of property rights. Countries are affected differently, dependent upon both their level of dependence and the size of revenues garnered from fuel exports. In countries with high per-capita fuel export income, fuel revenues are stabilizing for authoritarian regimes, as they provide the resources for maintaining support. In countries which are heavily dependent on fuel exports in the economy, but with a relatively low per-capita income from those exports, the increased importance of distribution in the economy results in greater instability in democratic regimes, as it increases the temptation for both government and opposition parties to lock in their share of relatively scarce resources through exclusionary politics.

Utilizing a dataset covering 166 countries from 1965 to 2001, I demonstrate that there is a general correlation between fuel export dependence and the importance of government distribution. I also find that income from fuel exports is generally stabilizing, especially for authoritarian regimes, while fuel dependence is destabilizing, especially for democracies. In addition, the same patterns of accumulation that fuel government distribution and resource competition, also promote incentives towards under-provision of public goods. This study demonstrates that fuel exporting states tend to have worse socio-economic performance than would be expected from their level of income. Finally, this study uses an in-depth case comparison of politics in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova to demonstrate the causal mechanisms, and to test the dynamics of the model. Based on these findings, policy recommendations are made for methods of distribution that produce incentives more consistent with democratic governance.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kurtz, Marcus
Commitee: Box-Steffensmeier, Janet, Frye, Timothy, Gunther, Richard
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science
Keywords: Democratization, Development politics, Oil, Post-Soviet politics, Regime survival
Publication Number: 10631096
ISBN: 978-0-355-01394-8
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