Theory and Empirics
Edited by Neri Salvadori, Pasquale Commendatore and Massimo Tamberi
Chapter 3: Natural Resources and Social Conflict: An Explanation of Sub-Saharan Countries’
stagnation * Davide Fiaschi 3.1. INTRODUCTION Sub-Saharan countries have shown substantial stagnation in their per capita GDP in the last 30 years (see Durlauf et al., 2005). Collier and Gunning (1999) argue that sub-Saharan countries have particular characteristics with respect to other developing countries, such as widespread corruption, strong social fractionalization and a large number of civil wars. They also claim that the divergence between the development paths of sub-Saharan countries and those of other developing countries started at the beginning of the 1970s. The colonial past has undoubtedly played a contributory role in the weakness of social and political institutions of sub-Saharan countries. However, other aspects appear to characterize these countries, such as low investment rates, low levels of human capital and (relative) abundance of natural resources (see Collier and Gunning, 1999). As regards the endowment of natural resources, Auty (2001) discusses how countries whose output is concentrated in primary sectors show low growth rates (see also Sachs and Warner, 2001; Mehlum et al., 2006; and Humphreys et al., 2007). The literature has proposed many complementary explanations of the phenomenon, denoted as the curse of natural resources, among which: i) strong exports of natural resources change the terms of trade, crowding out the traded-manufacturing activities (Sachs and Warner, 2001); ii) the rents from natural resources distort the allocation of investments (for example less incentive to invest in education, see Gylfason, 2001); and iii) the rents from natural resources encourage strong rent-seeking activities and/or social conflict in countries with weak institutions...
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