Matthias Basedau / Thomas Richter

Why Do Some Oil Exporters Experience Civil War But Others Do Not? A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Net Oil-Exporting Countries

GIGA Working Paper, No. 157, January 2011

Abstract
According to quantitative studies, oil is the only resource that is robustly linked to civil war onset. However, recent debates on the nexus of oil and civil war have neglected that there are a number of peaceful oil‐rentier states, and few efforts have been spent to explain why some oilexporting countries have experienced civil war and others have not. Methodologically, the debate has been dominated by research using either quantitative methods or case studies, with little genuine medium‐N comparison. This paper aims to fill this gap by studying the conditions of civil war onset among net oil exporters using (crisp‐set) Qualitative Comparative Analysis (csQCA). Considering a sample of 44 net oil exporters between 1970 and 2008, we test conditions such as oil abundance (per capita) and dependence, the interaction of ethnic exclusion and oil reserve locations (overlap) as well as the type of political regime (polity). Our results point to a combination of necessary and sufficient conditions that has been largely ignored until now: low abundance is a necessary condition of civil war onset. Two pathways lead to civil war: first, a combination of low abundance and high dependence and, second, a combination of low abundance and the geographical overlap of ethnic exclusion with oil reserve areas within autocracies.

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GIGA Authors

Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau

Director of the GIGA Institute of African Affairs
Editor GIGA Focus Africa

Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau is director of the GIGA Institute of African Affairs and professor of political science at the University of Hamburg. His research focuses on political institutions and armed conflicts, as well as how both are linked to ethnicity, religion, and natural resources. He is also the regional coordinator for Central and West Africa within the framework of the Bertelsmann Transformation Index.

Dr. Thomas Richter

Senior Research Fellow
Editor GIGA Focus Middle East

Dr. Thomas Richter is a senior research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies, and a member of the GIGA’s “Accountability and Participation” and “Power and Ideas” research programmes. His current research topics include authoritarian regimes, rentier state theory, shrinking civic spaces, and policy diffusion.

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