25 April 2012

Oil and Democracy #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Michael Ross contends there is a relationship between oil revenues and democracy.  Crudely put:  oil hinders democracy.

First, the oil-impedes-democracy claim is both valid and statistically robust; in other words, oil does hurt democracy. …

Second, the harmful influence of oil is not restricted to the Middle East. …

The third finding is that nonfuel mineral wealth also impedes democratization. …

Ross has a couple of simple tables comparing the relative reliance of some national economies on oil and non-fuel minerals.  in both cases you just calculate the export value of the minerals as a share of gross domestic product.

In 2011, the provincial GDP was $33 billion.  Of that, the province produced and exported about $10.7 billion in oil and $4.6 billion in non-fuel minerals.  That gives an Oil Reliance number of 32 and a Mineral Reliance number of 14.

To put that in perspective,  Ross’ calculation using 2006 figures for oil producing countries puts Newfoundland and Labrador on the same rank as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, both of which scored 33.85. It puts the province behind Brunei, Kuwait and Nigeria but miles beyond Libya (29.74), Iraq (23.48) and Venezuela (18.84)

Norway scored 13.46.

The Mineral Reliance score puts Newfoundland and Labrador at the fourth highest spot among the countries on Ross’ chart. Third place belongs to Bahrain (16.39), while fourth on the chart is occupied by Chile at 12.63.

Canada as a whole scored only 2.2.

Before you get too excited, the relationship between oil and democracy is a wee bit more complex, as Ross relates.  Let’s just look at those simple calculations first.  We’ll get back to the other ideas Ross discusses in his new book The Oil Curse.