There is now an extensive literature on the adverse effect of petroleum wealth on the political, economic and social well-being of a country. In this study we examine whether the so-called resource curse extends to the health of children, as measured by under-five mortality. We argue that the type of revenue available to governments in petroleum-rich countries reduces their incentive to improve child health. Whereas the type of revenue available to governments in petroleum-poor countries encourages policies designed to improve child health. In order to test that line of argument we employ a panel of 167 countries (all countries with populations above 250,000) for the years 1961-2011. We find robust evidence that petroleum-poor countries outperform petroleum-rich countries when it comes to reducing under-five mortality. This suggests that governments in oil abundant countries often fail to effectively use the resource windfall at their disposal to improve child health.
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