Oil Is Not a Curse: Ownership Structure and Institutions in Soviet Successor States

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This book makes two central claims: first, that mineral-rich states are cursed not by their wealth but, rather, by the ownership structure they chose to manage their mineral wealth and second, that weak institutions are not inevitable in mineral-rich states. Each represents a significant departure from the conventional resource curse literature, which has treated ownership structure as a constant across time and space and has presumed that mineral-rich countries are incapable of either building or sustaining strong institutions – particularly fiscal regimes. The experience of the five petroleum-rich Soviet successor states (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) provides a clear challenge to both of these assumptions. Their respective developmental trajectories since independence demonstrate not only that ownership structure can vary even across countries that share the same institutional legacy but also that this variation helps to explain the divergence in their subsequent fiscal regimes.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Do oil booms inevitably lead countries down a path of rentierism, authoritarianism, and laggard economic growth? Read this fascinating book about the Soviet successor states and find out why the effects of oil vary based on who owns it—the state, or the private sector.”
—Stephen Haber, Stanford University

“Pauline Jones Luong and Erika Weinthal have made a valuable contribution to the resource curse literature. Their book’s focus on the significance of ownership structure in determining whether resource abundance is a boon or a curse is novel, well-argued and supported empirically by a nice natural experiment. In addition, the book provides an accessible review of the oil and gas sector in the energy-rich Soviet successor states over the two decades since independence.”
—Richard Pomfret, University of Adelaide; Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center

“A fundamental premise of political economy is that the consequences of factor endowments for policy and prosperity are conditional on the nature of the political equilibrium in society. Using parsimonious theory, case studies, and econometric tests, this book brilliantly uses this perspective to demolish the confusions of the resource curse literature, showing how politics shapes the ownership structure of the oil sector which in turn determines the impact of oil.”
—James Robinson, Harvard University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Pauline Jones Luong is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Brown University. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor at Yale University. At Harvard University, where she received her doctorate, she was an Academy Scholar from 1998 to 1999, and from 2001 to 2002. Her primary research interests are institutional origin and change, identity and conflict, and the political economy of development. Her empirical work to date has focused on the former Soviet Union. She has published articles in several leading academic and policy journals, including the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Current History, Foreign Affairs, Politics and Society and Resources Policy. Her books include Institutional Change and Political Continuity in Post-Soviet Central Asia and The Transformation of Central Asia. Funding from various sources has supported her research, including the National Science Foundation, the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation, the National Council on East European and Eurasian Research, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.

Erika Weinthal is Associate Professor of Environmental Policy at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. From 1998 to 2005, she taught in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. Her research focuses on environmental and natural resources policy in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. She has published widely in journals such as Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Political Studies, the American Political Science Review, Foreign Affairs, Ground Water, Global Environmental Politics and the Journal of Environment and Development. She is the author of State Making and Environmental Cooperation: Linking Domestic Politics and International Politics in Central Asia. She has received funding from a variety of institutions to support her research, including the National Research Council for Europe and Eurasia, the United States Institute of Peace, the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation, the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Union and the USDA. She is a member of the UNEP Expert Advisory Group on Environment, Conflict, and Peacebuilding.

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Table of Contents

1. Rethinking the resource curse: ownership structure and institutions in mineral rich states; 2. Fiscal regimes: taxation and expenditure in mineral rich states; 3. State ownership with control versus private domestic ownership; 4. Two version of rentierism: state ownership with control in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; 5. Petroleum rents without rentierism: domestic private ownership in the Russian Federation; 6. State ownership without control versus private foreign ownership; 7. Eluding the obsolescing bargain: state ownership without control in Azerbaijan; 8. Revisiting the obsolescing bargain: foreign private ownership in Kazakhstan; 9. Taking domestic politics seriously: explaining ownership structure over mineral resources; 10. The myth of the resource curse.
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