chapter  12
30 Pages

Natural resources and constraints

The relationship between raw materials and economic development has been a central concern of political economic analysis since the 1700s (Marx 1962; Ricardo 1983; Smith 1776). Despite more than two centuries of research, no clear understanding has emerged. Natural resource wealth aids economic development in some times and places, and hinders it in others. Capitalists, government officials, and analysts during the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century viewed raw materials as natural capital to be exploited for development as “gifts of nature.” In the mid-twentieth century, analysts formalized this conceptualization in the growth pole (Perroux 1956) and linkage models of development. However, from the 1960s onward dependency theorists and world-systems analysts emphasized the dramatically contradictory relationship between raw materials wealth and development for colonized extractive peripheries (see e.g., Bunker and Ciccantell 2005; Cardoso and Faletto 1969; Chase-Dunn 1989; Frank 1967; Jalee 1968; Wallerstein 1974, 1979, among many others). More recently, this two-sided relationship between raw materials and economic development has been portrayed by some economists as the “resource curse” of peripheries where these natural resources are extracted (Auty 1995; Gelb 1988; Ross 1999; Sachs and Warner 1999).