Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 237–259 | Cite as

Do Natural Resources Breed Corruption? Evidence from China

  • Jing Vivian Zhan


Rampant corruption is often observed in resource-rich countries, especially developing countries with weak political institutions. However, controversies exist regarding whether and how natural resources systematically breed corruption. With empirical evidence from China and through a subnational approach, I shed new light on the impacts of resources on corruption. By qualitative study of corruption cases, I identify the causal channels through which resources contribute to corruption, and using cross-regional and longitudinal statistical analysis on a unique dataset of corruption rates in China, I find that resource dependence significantly increases the propensity for corruption by state employees.


China Corruption Curse of natural resources Mixed research method Subnational analysis 



The author acknowledges the financial support by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (Project ID 456712) and National Social Science Foundation of China (Project ID 12CZZ018). She is grateful for the valuable comments on the earlier versions of this paper by Ting Gong, Samuel Greene, Margret Levi, Alexander Libman, Daniel Treisman, Jing Ye, Ning Zhang, Jiangnan Zhu, the participants of the ‘Local Governance in China’ workshop and two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Government and Public AdministrationThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

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