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Review of Middle East Economics and Finance

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Volume 9, Issue 2

Resource Curse and Power Balance: Evidence from Iran

Kjetil Bjorvatn / Mohammad Reza Farzanegan
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of the Middle East Economics, Philipps-University of Marburg, Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), MACIE & CESifo, Marburg, Germany
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/ Friedrich Schneider
Published Online: 2013-08-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rmeef-2012-0029


Empirical research shows that natural resources have a detrimental effect on economic growth, a phenomenon known as the “resource curse”. Competition between influence groups for access to the resource rents, that is, rent-seeking, is often blamed for this curse. In this article, we dig deeper into the link between political competition and the resource curse by studying the case of Iran from 1960 to 2007. We present a theoretical model demonstrating how the effect of rents on the economy depends on the balance of political power. The model shows that an increase in rents may lead to a sharp reduction in income when the distribution of power between influence groups is relatively balanced. The empirical evidence confirms the predictions of the model.

Keywords: natural resource curse; political power; economic growth; Iran

JEL Classification: Q32; D72


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About the article

Published Online: 2013-08-30

Citation Information: Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, Volume 9, Issue 2, Pages 133–158, ISSN (Online) 1475-3685, ISSN (Print) 1475-3685, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rmeef-2012-0029.

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