Mineral Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 1–2, pp 23–34 | Cite as

Political economy, Mr. Churchill, and natural resources

  • Thorvaldur Gylfason
Original Paper


The article recalls Winston Churchill’s advocacy of public ownership of natural resources in Africa in the early 1900s. Following a brief discussion of different countries´ methods of natural resource management, empirical evidence of the cross-country relationship between economic and political diversification and per capita national income is presented to suggest a new channel through which excessive dependence on poorly managed natural resources, including oil and other minerals, may hamper economic and social progress. Constitutional issues, democracy, and human rights are brought to bear on the story to underline the conceptual distinction between state ownership and national ownership of natural resources.


Political economy State ownership National ownership 



The author thanks Arne Jon Isachsen, Gylfi Magnússon, Hermann Oskarsson, Indridi H. Thorláksson, and an anonymous referee for helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IcelandReykjavíkIceland
  2. 2.CESifo, University of MunichMunichGermany

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