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, Inês 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 codes: D72, O13, O55, P16.