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The resource curse literature as seen through the appropriability lens: a critical survey

Mehrdad Vahabi

Public Choice, 2018, vol. 175, issue 3, 393-428

Abstract: Abstract This critical survey demonstrates for the first time that the underlying tenets of the resource curse/blessing are borrowed directly from “staple theory”. It also focuses uniquely on appropriability with two key issues in mind: (1) state appropriability of assets, and (2) the mobility of assets to thwart appropriation. In the previous resource curse literature, mobility has been framed using the concept of lootability. Appropriability is related to non-lootable assets, such as oil, that can be seized by the state or rival private oligarchs. Recent resource curse research has addressed appropriability by distinguishing between point-source resources and diffuse-source resources. This survey demonstrates that this distinction is borrowed from staple theory, and that point-source and diffuse-source resources are defined in terms of geographical concentration/dispersion rather than institutional characteristics. By establishing that political institutions, markets and incentives are the most important elements for determining appropriability, the resource curse/blessing literature could support a general positive theory of the predatory state.

Keywords: Captive and fugitive assets; Lootable goods; Natural resource curse; Point-source and diffuse-source resources; Predatory state; Staple theory (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H1 H4 O1 Q1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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