Oil and Democracy in Russia
Russia is often considered a perfect example of the so-called "resource curse"--the argument that natural resource wealth tends to undermine democracy. Given high oil prices, some observers see the country as virtually condemned to authoritarian government for the foreseeable future. Reexamining various data, I show that such fears are exaggerated. Evidence from around the world suggests that for countries like Russia with an established oil industry, even large increases in the scale of mineral incomes have only a minor effect on the political regime. In addition, Russia--a country with an industrialized economy, a highly educated, urbanized population, and an oil sector that remains majority private-owned--is unlikely to be susceptible to most of the hypothesized pernicious effects of resource dependence.
I am grateful to Sergei Guriev and Michael Ross for comments and valuable conversations. I acknowledge financial support from the College of Letters and Science, UCLA. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.