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Resource Curse


The Resource Curse, often known as the Paradox of Plenty, refers to the paradox where countries with an abundant amount of natural resources, specifically non-renewable resources like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. This typically occurs because these countries are heavily dependent on revenue from these natural resources, often leading to economic instability, corruption, and poor governance. Additionally, the focus on resource industries can slow down the development of other sectors.


The phonetic transcription of “Resource Curse” is: /ɹɪˈsɔːɹs kɝːs/.

Key Takeaways

Main Takeaways about Resource Curse

  1. Underdevelopment: The Resource Curse, also known as the paradox of plenty, refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources, particularly non-renewable resources like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth, less democracy, and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources.
  2. Political and Economic Mismanagement: The resource curse occurs because the revenue from highly valuable resources often becomes the focus for political and economic power struggles. These resources can also create sustained economic imbalances, hinder competitiveness and devalue other economic sectors.
  3. Solution and Mitigation: Some solutions and mitigations to the resource curse might include diversifying the economy, maintaining strong institutions, and adopting revenue management techniques to ensure that the windfall from resources is not squandered but rather used for investing in infrastructure, human capital, and sustainable economic sectors.


The resource curse is an important concept in business and finance because it addresses the paradox where countries with an abundance of natural resources such as oil, minerals or precious metals tend to have less economic growth, less democracy, weaker institutions, and poorer development outcomes compared to countries with fewer natural resources. This occurs due to factors such as economic volatility linked to global commodity prices, the crowding out of other productive sectors (the Dutch disease), poor governance, corruption, and conflict over resources. Understanding the resource curse is crucial for policymakers and business leaders in resource-rich countries in order to adopt policies and practices to avoid these negative consequences and ensure sustainable economic development.


The Resource Curse, also known as the Paradox of Plenty, describes the paradox where countries and regions abundant in valuable natural resources, rather than achieving greater economic growth, tend to have less economic development and poorer performance in several socio-economic metrics. The purpose of identifying this phenomenon is to scrutinize economic imbalances and provide insights to countries on managing their resources optimally. The phenomenon often emerges due to a number of economic and political factors such as corruption, commodity price volatility, conflict over wealth distribution, and mismanaged income from natural resources. The understanding of Resource Curse is essential for policymakers and economists as it aids them in creating strategies that can counter the potential economic pitfalls associated with natural resource wealth. It is used as a diagnostic tool in economic and political analysis, helping governments to design policies and institutions that can manage resource revenues effectively. For instance, policies ensuring transparency in revenue management, investing in human capital, diversifying the economy, and establishing sovereign wealth funds can help countries to avoid or mitigate the effects of the resource curse.


1. Nigeria and Oil: Nigeria has a wealth of natural resources, with oil being the most prominent. Since the discovery of oil, the country has been largely dependent on it for its economic growth. However, rather than bring wealth and prosperity, the oil has, in many ways, been a curse. Corruption, economic instability, environmental damage, and civil unrest have surged due to mismanagement and unequal distribution of oil wealth.2. Venezuela and Oil: Venezuela also suffers from a resource curse. The country holds the largest oil reserves globally, yet it is struggling with a severe economic crisis. Mismanagement of these resources, political strife and a failure to invest in other sectors of the economy have left Venezuela reliant on fluctuating oil prices. This led to inflation, poverty and a lack of basic necessities when oil prices fell.3. Democratic Republic of Congo and Minerals: The DRC is enormously rich in natural resources, particularly minerals like cobalt and diamonds. Despite this, the country suffers from extreme poverty, corruption, and ongoing conflict. The illicit trade of these minerals has funded warfare and led to environmental degradation, showcasing that the abundance of resources has contributed more to the nation’s woes than to its development.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does the term Resource Curse mean in finance and business?

The Resource Curse or Paradox of Plenty is an economic theory that suggests that countries with an abundance of natural resources, such as minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth, less prosperity, and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources.

Can you give a few examples of countries that have experienced the Resource Curse?

Examples of countries that have experienced the resource curse include Nigeria with its oil wealth, Sierra Leone with diamonds, and Venezuela with abundant oil reserves. Despite their vast resources, these countries often suffer from corruption, economic instability, and poor development outcomes.

What causes the Resource Curse?

There are several proposed causes for the resource curse. These include market volatility causing economic instability, the erosion of institutions due to corruption, the crowding out of other sectors in the economy, and conflict over control of resources.

Can the Resource Curse be avoided or mitigated?

Yes, it is possible to mitigate or even avoid the resource curse. Financial management and transparency, diversification of the economy, investment in human capital, and good governance can all play crucial roles in preventing the resource curse.

How does the Resource Curse affect the population of a country?

The resource curse can lead to inequality and poverty. Rather than wealth from resources being used to improve social infrastructure and wellbeing, it can often end up concentrated in the hands of a few, leading to political instability, conflict, and social issues.

How does the Resource Curse relate to environmental sustainability?

Countries affected by the resource curse often face significant environmental challenges. The extraction of natural resources can lead to environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. Additionally, it can contribute to climate change as fossil fuels are often part of the resources extracted.

What is the Dutch Disease, and how is it related to the Resource Curse?

The Dutch Disease is a term in economics that refers to negative consequences arising from large increases in a country’s income from natural resources. It’s related to the resource curse as it illustrates how dependence on one profitable sector can lead to de-industrialization, making the economy vulnerable to sector-specific shocks.

Related Finance Terms

  • Dutch Disease
  • Non-renewable Resources
  • Dependency Theory
  • Economic Diversification
  • Rent-seeking

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