Lederman - Natural Resources: Neither Curse Nor Destiny

Lederman, D., Maloney, W., F., (eds.) Natural Resources: Neither Curse Nor Destiny (Washington DC and Palo Alto, CA, United States of America:  The World Bank and Stanford University Press, 2007)

The editors bring together a variety of theoretical and empirical perspectives, ranging from econometric analysis of economic growth to historical studies of successful development in some resource rich countries.

The book is divided into three Parts:

  • In Part I the authors use econometric tools to demonstrate that the curse does not lie in the abundance of natural resources. Rather, export concentration, borrowing practices resulting in a debt overhang, and  low level of a country’s human capital account for the negative connection between natural resources and economic growth;
  • Part II, made up of five chapters, takes a historical view of the experience of resource-led development and why it has worked in some countries and not in the others. In general, the authors place heavy emphasis on the role of the knowledge and of openness to the international product and knowledge market as keys to success; and
  • Part III includes three papers that use theoretical models from recent international trade literature to illustrate the endogeneity of comparative advantage, stating that it can be created by capital accumulation and skills acquisition. Overall, the authors claim that institutions, technological choice, human capital accumulation, and policy variables play key roles in determining the endogenous nature of resource abundance.


Based on the evidence presented by authors in their studies, this book claims that natural resources are neither a curse nor destiny; the authors argue, instead, that such resources can in fact spur economic development when combined with the accumulation of knowledge for economic innovation.


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