Natural resource wealth and human rights abuses: do rising prices increase conflict?
This paper examines the effect of increasing natural resource revenue on human rights abuses, particularly with regard to oil and natural gas. Previous research has indicated that as a state's oil revenue increases, its democratic rights tend to decrease. One possible causal mechanism is known as the "repression effect", which hypothesizes that higher revenues are used to increase military spending, thereby more effectively repressing opposition to the governing regime. If this is the case, one would expect human rights abuses to be positively correlated with a rise in natural resource revenue. Using data from the Cingranelli-Richards Human Rights Database, the Polity IV Project, the United States Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, and the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook, findings indicate that while oil production maintains a positive correlation with frequent human rights abuses in all models, the price of the commodity has no statistically significant effect on human rights abuses.
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