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Will Ghana avoid the resource curse? A new blog December 8, 2009

Posted by jasonized in news.
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The recent discovery of large offshore oil fields is a crucial moment in Ghana’s story. Will Ghana fall prey to the resource curse–the corruption, crime, and environmental calamity–that has befallen so many other developing countries that discover oil? Or will it pass the test of governance and use the revenues of such a project to raise the standard of living for its people?

While time will tell, I have decided to start a blog to track news and centralize information on Ghanaian oil development, with the hope that it may serve academics, journalists, and decision-makers and help Ghana “avoid the curse.” Check it out at http://avoidthecurse.wordpress.com.

–Jason Burwen

Coffee prices, oil prices, and violence in Colombia October 23, 2008

Posted by jasonized in study.
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Conflict is affected by commodity prices. That’s the empirical result of a fascinating study that shows how changes in world prices of coffee and oil correlated with rises and decreases in violence in Colombia.

Via Dani Rodrik:

When farm prices (or those of other labor-intensive resources) go up, the benefits are widespread, and many laborers see their incomes increase accordingly. But higher oil prices bring gains only to the privileged few who own the wells (and perhaps also their relatively small workforce), leading to even greater conflict over who controls the increasingly valuable oil.

The empirical analysis by Dube and Vargas shows that exactly this pattern holds.  When world prices for coffee and oil rise, there is less violence in the country’s coffee regions and more violence in oil regions.  This is a very neat piece of work that greatly enhances our understanding of the economics of conflict.