As petroleum extraction and consumption has steadily increased in recent decades, economists and development researchers have been puzzled by discrepancies in the growth, development, and governance of oil-dependent countries around the world. The divergent development outcomes of oil states beg the following question: what are the political and economic conditions that determine the consequences of oil wealth management in petrol-dependent states? Hypotheses in the literature (including the ‘resource curse,’ ‘poverty trap,’ and ‘rentier state’ models) argue that resource abundance fosters harmful economic practices and poor governance. Rather, I argue that resource abundance and dependence merely exacerbates existing poor political and economic institutions. Economists frequently use wide-scale regression analysis to establish causative explanations for oil wealth mismanagement and poor governance. In order to account for state idiosyncrasy and historical context, I instead use a comparative model, examining divergent outcomes of oil wealth management in two pairs of case studies: Brunei Darussalam and Timor-Leste in Southeast Asia, and Equatorial Guinea and Congo-Brazzaville in sub-Saharan Africa. I find that preexisting political and economic institutions can prominently shape a states’ experience in managing oil wealth. These institutions, including political regime instability, governmental corruption, and armed conflict, all contribute to the idiosyncratic nature of state oil wealth (mis)management.

First Advisor

Nick Kontogeorgopoulos

Date of Completion

Spring 2016

Degree Type






Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy


International Political Economy

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2016


University of Puget Sound