Michael L. Ross, "Does Oil Hinder Democracy?" World Politics (53:3) April 2001:  325-61.

  1. Research Questions
    1. Does oil impede democracy?
    2. Does oil impede democracy everywhere or just in the Middle East?
    3. Do other commodity exports also impede democracy?
    4. Are other factors more important than oil in explaining absence of democracy?
      1. poverty?
      2. geography?
      3. culture?

  2. Research Design:
    1. Independent Variables
      1. Oil reliance measured by the value of fuel-based exports divided by GDP
      2. Mineral reliance measured by the value of non-fuel mineral exports divided by GDP 
      3. Income measured as natural log of per capita income
      4. Islam measured as percent of population that is Muslim
      5. OECD, membership in which is a proxy of highly developed democratic societies
      6. History, measured as regime type (dependent variable) lagged by five years
        1. the most important influence on a state's regime type may often be its own peculiar history
      7. Dummy Variables designed to account for
        1. end of the Cold War
        2. regional "contagion" effects
    2. Dependent Variable
      1. Regime type, e.g., democracy/non-democracy (http://www.bsos.umd.edu/inscr/polity/ and http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/inscr/polity/report.htm)
        1. 113 states between 1971 and 1997

  3. Three Alternative Causal Explanations
    1. rentier effect: oil rich regimes use low taxes and patronage to relieve pressures for more democracy
      1. high percentage of government revenues derived from external (foreign-paid) rents
      2. low domestic taxes reduce demands for government accountability to domestic groups
        1. domestic taxes in France, England, and United States produced demands there for government accountability to the people
      3. oil wealth allows government to spend more on patronage, which dampens latent pressures for democratization
      4. government-sponsored associations drive out independent civil associations
    2. repression effect: oil wealth enables regimes to spend more on security and repression forces
      1. extra security might be needed to quell ethnic conflict, since mineral wealth is often geographically concentrated but benefits are diffused
    3. modernization effect: dependence on commodity exports retards social and cultural changes necessary for democracy

  4. Findings
    1. Relationship of Oil to Democracy
      1. a state's reliance on either oil or mineral exports tends to make it less democratic;
      2. this effect is not caused by other types of primary exports;
      3. it is not limited to the Arabian Peninsula, to the Middle East, or to sub-Saharan Africa; and,
      4. it is not limited to small states.
    2. Rentier Effect?
      1. higher personal and corporate taxes are strongly associated with more democratic government
      2. the larger the government, the less movement toward democracy over the following five years
    3. Repression Effect?
      1. oil wealth may be linked to higher levels of military spending, which in turn tends to impede democracy
      2. but there is no evidence of a similar pattern for mineral wealth;
      3. nor is there evidence to support the claim that oil or mineral wealth leads to higher levels of military personnel
    4. Modernization Effect?
  5. Resource Curse?
    1. states with greater natural resource wealth tend to grow more slowly than resource-poor counterparts
    2. states with natural resource wealth have more civil wars
    3. states with oil and mineral wealth are less democratic
    4. this relationship is present in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, not just the Middle East