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Oil, Dissent, and Distribution

Nimah Mazaheri

World Development, 2017, vol. 99, issue C, 186-202

Abstract: This study reveals that social forces condition the extent to which oil-rich nations provide vital public services to the population. Although it is often assumed that oil wealth leads to the formation of a distributive state that generously provides services in the areas of water, sanitation, education, health care, or infrastructure, this study shows that the spread of political dissent conditions the effect of oil wealth on the actual patterns of service distribution. Quantitative tests reveal that oil-rich nations who experience demonstrations or riots provide better water and sanitation services than oil-rich nations who do not experience such dissent. Subsequent tests find that oil-rich nations who experience nonviolent, mass-based movements provide better water and sanitation services than those who experience violent, mass-based movements. The causal mechanisms between oil, dissent, and distribution are evaluated through a case study of Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. The analysis begins with the early days of Aramco and examines how mobilization activities and the rise of Sunni–Shiite sectarianism altered service distribution in the province. This study provides evidence that social forces can shape the extent to which oil wealth benefits the nation and improves the population’s quality of life.

Keywords: oil; distribution; services; protest; Middle East (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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