BREAD Working Paper No. 554, January 2019

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

Alex Armand, Alexander Coutts, Pedro C Vicente, Ines Vilela


Natural resources can lead to the deterioration of public policies through corruption, as well as to civil conflict. Our paper tests this political resource curse through a large-scale field experiment following the dissemination of information about a substantial resource discovery in Mozambique. A variety of outcomes is measured through surveys, behavioral activities, lab-in-the-field experiments, and georeferenced conflict data. Information given only to local leaders increases elite capture and rent-seeking, while information and deliberation targeted at citizens increases mobilization and accountability, and decreases violence. Although the political resource curse is likely to be real, information campaigns can have a countervailing effect.

Keywords: Natural Resources, Curse, Natural Gas, Information, Deliberation, Rent-seeking, Mozambique.

JEL classification codes: D72, O13, O55, P16.

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