Leonard Wantchekon and Nathan Jensen
Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 37, No. 7, 816-841.
Resource Wealth and Political Regimes in Africa
Political economists point to the levels of economic development, poverty, and income inequality as the most important determinants of political regimes. The authors present empirical evidence suggesting a robust and negative correlation between the presence of a sizable natural resource sector and the level of democracy in Africa. They argue that resource abundance not only is an important determinant of democratic transition but also partially determines the success of democratic consolidation in Africa. The results illuminate the fact that post–Cold War democratic reforms have been successful only in resource-poor countries such as Benin, Mali, and Madagascar. The authors argue that resource-rich countries such as Nigeria and Gabon can become democratic only if they introduce strong mechanisms of vertical and horizontal accountability within the state.