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War and Natural Resource Exploitation


Rohner, Dominic; van der Ploeg, Frederick (2012). War and Natural Resource Exploitation. European Economic Review, 56(8):1714-1729.

Abstract

We build a theoretical framework that allows for endogenous conflict behaviour (i.e., fighting efforts) and for endogenous natural resource exploitation (i.e., speed, ownership, and investments). While depletion is spread in a balanced Hotelling fashion during peace, the presence of conflict creates incentives for rapacious extraction, as this lowers the stakes of future contest. This voracious extraction depresses total oil revenue, especially if world oil demand is relatively elastic and the government’s weapon advantage is weak. Some of these political distortions can be overcome by bribing rebels or by government investment in weapons. The shadow of conflict can also make less efficient nationalized oil extraction more attractive than private extraction, as insecure property rights create a holdup problem for the private firm and lead to a lower license fee. Furthermore, the government fights less intensely than the rebels under private exploitation, which leads to more government turnover. Without credible commitment to future fighting efforts, private oil depletion is only lucrative if the government’s non-oil office rents are large and weaponry powerful, which guarantees the government a stronger grip on office and makes the holdup problem less severe.

Abstract

We build a theoretical framework that allows for endogenous conflict behaviour (i.e., fighting efforts) and for endogenous natural resource exploitation (i.e., speed, ownership, and investments). While depletion is spread in a balanced Hotelling fashion during peace, the presence of conflict creates incentives for rapacious extraction, as this lowers the stakes of future contest. This voracious extraction depresses total oil revenue, especially if world oil demand is relatively elastic and the government’s weapon advantage is weak. Some of these political distortions can be overcome by bribing rebels or by government investment in weapons. The shadow of conflict can also make less efficient nationalized oil extraction more attractive than private extraction, as insecure property rights create a holdup problem for the private firm and lead to a lower license fee. Furthermore, the government fights less intensely than the rebels under private exploitation, which leads to more government turnover. Without credible commitment to future fighting efforts, private oil depletion is only lucrative if the government’s non-oil office rents are large and weaponry powerful, which guarantees the government a stronger grip on office and makes the holdup problem less severe.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:14 Feb 2013 09:54
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 19:35
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0014-2921
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2012.09.003
Related URLs:http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-51740

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