A gendered resource curse? Mineral ownership, female unemployment and domestic violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Mario KrauserEmail author
  • Tim Wegenast
  • Gerald Schneider
  • Ingeborg Hess Elgersma


Several studies suggest that the extractive industry has negative consequences for gender equality despite the often positive growth impact of natural resources. We re-examine this claim at the sub-state level in sub-Saharan Africa and argue that we need to differentiate between ownership arrangements in the extractive industry. To test our argument on the gender dimension of the resource curse, this article employs unique data on the control rights of minerals within sub-Saharan countries as well as data from Afrobarometer and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). Our quantitative analyses explore how international vs. domestic ownership of copper, diamond and gold mines affects the labor market integration of females and intimate partner violence. The regression results suggest in line with our theoretical expectations that gender-specific structural labor market shifts within extractive industries are contingent on mineral control rights. Our models show that within mining areas, only domestic ownership reduces male unemployment. While domestic mining seems to reinforce the traditional male breadwinner model, internationally owned mineral extraction induces structural labor market changes: women abandon subsistence farming activities and migrate to the service sector. Our results further indicate that this shift of traditional gender roles within rural mining areas is associated with less intimate partner violence.


Resource curse Gender equality Intimate partner violence Labor market integration 

Ein genderpezifischer Ressourcenfluch? Eigentumsrechte im Bergbau, weibliche Arbeitslosigkeit und häusliche Gewalt in Subsahara-Afrika


Mehrere Studien deuten darauf hin, dass sich der Bergbau von wertvollen Mineralien trotz seiner positiven Wachstumseffekte negativ auf die Gleichstellung der Geschlechter auswirkt. Wir überprüfen diese Behauptung für Subsahara-Afrika und argumentieren, dass wir zwischen den Eigentumsverhältnissen in der mineralgewinnenden Industrie unterscheiden müssen. Um diese Hypothese zur Geschlechterdimension des Ressourcenfluches zu testen, verwendet dieser Artikel einen neuen Datensatz zu den Kontrollrechte in der rohstoffgewinnenden Industrie sowie Daten aus Afrobarometern sowie den Demographie- und Gesundheitsbefragungen (DHS). Unsere quantitativen Analysen untersuchen, wie sich der internationale vs. inländische Besitz von Kupfer-, Diamant- und Goldminen auf die Arbeitsmarktintegration von Frauen und die interpersonelle Gewalt auswirkt. Die Regressionsergebnisse deuten im Einklang mit unseren theoretischen Erwartungen darauf hin, dass geschlechtsspezifische strukturelle Arbeitsmarktveränderungen im Bergbau von den Eigentumsrechten in diesem Sektor abhängen. Unsere Modelle zeigen, dass Bergbaugebiete mit inländischen Eigentümern eher eine Reduktion der Arbeitslosigkeit von Männern erfahren. Während ein von Inländern dominierter Minensektor das traditionelle männliche Broternährer-Modell zu stärken scheint, führt der international kontrollierte Bergbau zu strukturellen Arbeitsmarktveränderungen: Frauen verlassen die Subsistenzwirtschaft und wandern in den Dienstleistungssektor ab. Unsere Ergebnisse zeigen weiterhin, dass diese Verschiebung der traditionellen Geschlechterrollen in ländlichen Bergbaugebieten mit einer Reduktion der Gewalt zwischen Intimpartnern verbunden ist.


Ressourcenfluch Gleichstellung der Geschlechter Gewalt in der Partnerschaft Arbeitsmarktintegration 



We would like to thank the editorial team of ZeFKo, guest editor Nils Weidmann and two anonymous reviewers for their guidance and comments on earlier versions of the article.


Financial support from the German Research Foundation (DFG), as part of the research project “Resource Management and Intrastate Conflict” (WE 4850/1-2), is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

42597_2019_19_MOESM1_ESM.docx (83 kb)
The online appendix shows the distribution of the ownership arrangements across mineral resources, individual countries and within proximity of Afrobarometer respondents. Moreover, we provide results on the robustness tests using linear fixed-effects models and narrower buffer zones.


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Copyright information

© Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung e.V. (AFK) und die Autoren 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Relations Chair, Department of Politics and Public Administration and Graduate School of Decision SciencesUniversität KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  2. 2.KristiansandNorway

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