Do Natural Resources also Curse Environmental Performance? An Empirical Cross-Country Analysis

Wen Yang Chang, Szu-Ning Ping 

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper aims at exploring whether or not the argument of the "natural resource curse" theory also applies to environmental performance. Both academia and policy practitioners all agree that countries with abundant natural resource endowments that significantly rely on these endowments tend to perform poorly in political, economic and social development. This observation not only applies to developing states, but also to advanced ones. However, few scholars have paid attention to the effects of natural resources on environmental governance, which is an issue that has become prominent in recent decades. This deficiency suggests a gap between the argument of the resource curse thesis and the breadth of its application. This article proposes that countries that rely more on these natural resources also have worse environmental performance. Such anegative relationship is based on two direct explanations-that natural resources encourage states to concentrate on extractive industrial sectors that usually cause environmental damage, and economic incentives from natural resource exploitation outweigh incentives to protect the environment. In addition, one further indirect explanation is that higher reliance on abundant natural resource endowments weakens state capacity, thus damaging environmental governance. Based on empirical evidence using data for 214 countries or political entities for the period 1980-2015, such an argument is statistically confirmed. This article offers practical and theoretical contributions to both the natural resource curse and environmental governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-234
Number of pages54
JournalTaiwanese Political Science Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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