This Discussion Paper provides a critical survey of the academic and policy literature that investigates the role of democratic arrangements and practices in sustainable and inclusive development through the prudential governance of oil, gas and mining resources. It covers different government systems, world regions and countries.

The findings suggest that if the question is ‘does democracy lead to better development outcomes in countries rich in oil, gas and mining resources?’, the ‘yes’ answer should be a very cautious and qualified one. While certain aspects of democratic arrangements and practices are empirically linked to sustainable and inclusive development outcomes, others are not—and may, under some conditions, undermine the achievement of such outcomes.

Finally, several theoretical and methodological issues are identified that affect many studies in this literature and hinder making inferences from their findings. Six illustrative cases are discussed to highlight important aspects of the relationship between democracy, natural resources and development.


Publication date
10 March 2016
Anar Ahmadov, Farid Guliyev
Number of pages




Conceptual framework

The role of institutions

Democracy, rents and development: cross-national evidence


Stakeholder participation


Regions, resources and rents

Conclusion: taking stock of evidence

Appendix 1: countries rich in oil, gas and mining resources

Appendix 2: illustrative case studies

Acronyms and abbreviations


About the authors

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Tackling the Resource Curse: The role of democracy in achieving sustainable development in resource-rich countries

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