Tackling the ‘resource curse’

For three UCLA scholars, it just didn’t add up. Why do so many people who live in developing countries with an abundance of natural resources struggle in poverty every day?

“You would think that it’s a simple thing to take wealth that’s underneath the ground and turn it into wealth on top of the ground for everybody to share,” said Michael Ross, a professor of political science at UCLA. “But we know from studying countries around the world that that very rarely happens.”

Social scientists call it the “resource curse,” and it’s one of the reasons why Ross and two UCLA colleagues, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Darin Christensen and political science faculty member Graeme Blair, have created the Project on Resources, Development and Governance, or PRDG, a network of social scientists, policymakers, nongovernmental organizations and industry representatives dedicated to finding policies that promote welfare, peace and accountability in resource-rich countries.