Minerals are increasingly recognized by the World Bank as part of the wealth of nations. Chapter 5 argues that the history of mineral extraction in the United States provides insight into how countries that currently lower-income countries with mineral wealth can transition into rich countries where mineral wealth is only a small part of total national wealth. We begin with the gold rush in California, which shows how private property contributes to mineral booms but also a knowledge commons. We then compare regulations on conventional and unconventional oil and gas extraction. For both, private property rights to minerals and polycentric governance of mining enables producers to avoid costly competition and conflict in the extraction process. Markets for mineral rights, competitive leasing, and polycentric regulation emerge as the key from moving from an economy built on resources to one where knowledge and skills define changes in per-capita income.
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