International political economy and renewable energy: hydroelectric power and the potential for a resource curse

Hancock, Kathleen J and Sovacool, Benjamin (2017) International political economy and renewable energy: hydroelectric power and the potential for a resource curse. International Studies Review. ISSN 1521-9488 (Accepted)

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Abstract

One of the most studied issues regarding the role of natural resources in development is the so-called “resource curse,” the paradoxical (and contested) situation in which a state with abundant resources has low rates of economic growth per capita, high levels of income inequality, low levels of democracy, high gender inequality, and high levels of domestic and international conflicts that surround resources. Although the term implies all resources, most research by political scientists as well as economists and other social scientists examines the role of oil and hard minerals, leaving out many resources, including renewable energy resources. We argue that many of the causal mechanisms behind the curse, when it does manifest, hold for water-abundant states who have sufficient resources to create large hydroelectric projects. Drawing on illustrative examples of hydroelectric projects around the world, we demonstrate sufficient, albeit preliminary, evidence that most aspects of the resource curse literature apply to hydroelectric projects, at least in some states, and thus suggest the curse literature should be expanded to include water-abundance. In addition, we add a new factor, variable fuel supply, which could be an important factor for other resources as well. We conclude with suggestions for developing a research agenda and note a number of policy implications.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Nora Blascsok
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2017 08:12
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2017 09:02
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/69284

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