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Oil before the 'resource curse': the parable of black gold and global inequality

Original post for the Inequality and History Network at the University of Cambridge

We are used to think of oil in relation to war, poverty, and extreme inequality. But up until the 1970s, it was considered as a fundamental opportunity for global development.

“One of the features of the modern world is that it has poverty on its conscience and wants to remove it. Some of the rich countries still have poverty within their own frontiers which they do not find easy to cure. Nevertheless, all the advanced countries accept that they have to do something to help to overcome the problems of under-development in the less advanced countries of the free world where acute poverty still exists” [1]. This is the opening line of an article published by the Petroleum Press Service, the official journal of the oil and gas industry, in May 1961. The article was commenting the international development plan outlined by the newly elected President J.F. Kennedy to the Congress earlier in March, and it welcomed the relaunch of non-military foreign investments to newly independent countries outside of the Communist bloc.

Full article here

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