Natural Resources, Environmental Degradation, Economic and Political Stability: Theory of Political Change and Measure of Stability in Natural Resource Developing Economies

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Conflict in natural resource rich emerging countries continues to be a challenge to poverty reduction efforts, especially in countries dependent on natural resources. This paper studies the role of individual mobility and the form of the democratic decision-making in these conflicts. It employs a public choice approach to study the conflict and social welfare. Majority rule with the median voter in the region that does not suffer the externality leads to high potential for conflict, and high regional welfare disparity. Decentralized decision-making may lead to inefficiently low levels of social welfare, with possibility of state failure. Mobility of population may improve social welfare, and reduce the potential for conflict. The pursuit of welfare may also be inconsistent with the pursuit of peace, especially when mobility is the primary instrument of welfare improvement. High levels of mobility may exacerbate the likelihood of instability, poverty, and regional welfare disparity. This study finds that a strategic relationship may exist between cross regional mobility and stability. It finds that in a democracy, a federal system may be more stable than a unitary system. Resort to regional political rhetoric may be carried out to stabilize the system, but this may also increase the intensity of conflict. External factors such as the price of resources, and natural disasters may affect the intensity of conflict but are not root causes of conflict. Homogenization of impacted population arising from mobility may lead to minority control of policy, and provide an opportunity for resource cornering by opportunistic opposition

Keywords: Environment, Public Choice, Identity, Conflict, Stability, Fiscal Imbalance, Development, Natural Resources, Externalities, Mobility, Migration, Political Economy
Stream: Social Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Joshua Gogo

PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Ref: S08P0107