Institutions and the resource curse: new insights from causal machine learning

Roland Hodler, Michael Lechner, Paul A. Raschky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


There is a widely held belief that natural resource rents are a blessing if institutions are strong, but a curse if institutions are weak. We use data from 3,800 Sub-Saharan African districts and apply a causal forest estimator to reassess the relationship between institutions and the effects of resource rents. Consistent with this belief, we document that stronger institutions increase the positive effect of the presence of mining activities on economic development and dampen the negative effect of mining activities on conflict. In contrast, we find that the effects of higher world mineral prices on economic development and conflict in mining districts are non-linear and vary little in institutional quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0284968
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Cite this