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DIME Seminar: Does Information Break the Political Resource Curse? Experimental Evidence from Mozambique

May 29, 2018

1818 H Street, N.W, Washington, DC, MC 8-100

  • The political resource curse is the idea that natural resources can lead to the deterioration of public policies through corruption and rent-seeking of those closest to political power. One prominent consequence is the emergence of conflict. In this paper, we take this theory to the data for the case of Mozambique, where a substantial discovery of natural gas recently took place. We focus on the anticipation of a resource boom and the behavior of local political structures and communities. For this purpose, we designed and implemented a large-scale field experiment to follow the dissemination of information about the newly-discovered resources. We designed two types of treatments, one with information for local leaders, the other with information and deliberation activities targeting communities at large. We measure a variety of theory-inspired outcomes through surveys, behavioral activities, and lab-in-the-field experiments. Our measures of actual conflict come from geo-referenced international datasets. We find that information given to leaders increases elite capture and rent-seeking, while information/deliberation given to citizens increases mobilization/accountability-related outcomes and decreases conflict. We conclude that while the political resource curse is likely to be in place, the dissemination of information to communities is a force in the opposite direction.


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    Nova School of Business and Economics

    Pedro C. Vicente is an Associate Professor of Economics at Nova School of Business and Economics, where he is also the founding scientific director of NOVAFRICA – the Nova Africa Center for Business and Economic Development. Specializing in development economics and Africa, with a focus on political economy issues, he is currently working on community-driven development in Angola, civil servant incentives in Guinea-Bissau, and natural resource governance in Mozambique. His main line of research has been applying large-scale field experiments, coupled with behavioral measurements, in the context of information campaigns. Pedro held research and faculty posts at the University of Oxford and at Trinity College Dublin. He was also a visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame, and a consultant for the World Bank. . Pedro has published in top economics journals such as the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Economic Journal, and the Journal of Development Economics, and serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of African Economies. Pedro holds MA and PhD degrees in Economics from the University of Chicago, and a MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

  • DIME is a World Bank-wide program to generate knowledge on the effectiveness of development policies. Working across 18 thematic areas, DIME collaborates with 300 agencies in 72 countries to improve the effectiveness of policies and programs and strengthen country capacity for real-time evidence-based policy-making. More »