chapter  3
23 Pages

Scarcity, frontiers and the resource curse

A historical perspective 1
WithEdward B. Barbier

Until recent decades, access to abundant natural resources, especially those valued on the world market, was considered to be a guarantee of economic success rather than an obstacle. Disentangling this historical paradox requires understanding the changing role of natural resources in the process of economic development in past eras compared to the present. In particular, a key factor appears to be how new supplies, or frontiers, of natural resources are found, exploited and incorporated in various economies. A consensus on the necessary and sufficient conditions for successful frontier-based development is suggested, from which important lessons can be drawn for today’s resource-rich developing economies.