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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Spring 2019
May 19, 2019
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ARST 571 - Oil and Politics
 What are the properties of oil-led political development? Are countries cursed by natural resources or institutions? Is the concept of “Rentier State” a useful tool to understand distributive politics in oil-dependent countries? Does oil lead to political stability? What are the patterns of public investments in oil-dependent developing countries? Is there a Gulf States exceptionalism and why? And what explains the variation in economic diversification across oil-exporting countries?

Oil and natural resources have given rise to three distinct waves of academic literature. First, the Rentier State literature in Political Science focused on the effect of oil on political outcomes. Second, the Economics literature on the Resource Curse focused on the economic consequences of resource abundance. Third, recent literature on rentier states and the resource curse has increasingly focused on the conditional effect of rents on both political and economic development. Specifically, it finds that leaders' behavior is critical in explaining economic outcomes. By integrating institutions and political incentives in the study of oil, scholars have found that states have substantial leeway to mitigate negative macroeconomic consequences and leverage the large inflows of capital brought about by natural resource extraction. 

The course will introduce students to the theoretical debates and issues surrounding natural resources in general, and oil in particular. Drawing from both the Economics and the Political Science literature, it will investigate the link between oil and politics in Arab countries. The objective of the course is threefold: it will (1) provide students with a solid understanding of the key scholarly debates pertaining to oil both in Politics and Economics; (2) introduce them to the changes in research agendas that have appeared over the last ten years; and (3) provide specific knowledge on the oil sector, and examine what the future of oil-dependent countries looks like. 

The course will offer an overview of key topics. It will be divided into the following subsections: oil and regime type; oil and the development of institutions; oil and political stability; oil and economic development; and, finally, economic diversification of oil-dependent countries. The course will begin with introducing the students to two important debates surrounding oil resources: the politics of rent-seeking, and the endogeneity of oil revenues/resources.

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: MN or MC Graduate
Schedule Types: Seminar

Arab Studies Department

Must be enrolled in one of the following Levels:     
      MN or MC Graduate

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