Dimensions of Democracy and Mineral Rents: Evidence from Argentina
The central premise of the resource curse literature is that, for a variety of factors, mineral rents result in less democratic political regimes and state institutions. However, this literature has not explored the effects of mineral rents on different conceptions of the democracy. That is, scholars have rarely unpacked the potential effects that mineral wealth has on liberal, electoral, or participatory democracy. Drawing on three Argentine provinces rich in mineral resources (Catamarca, Santa Cruz, and San Juan) during the peak period of mining expansion in Argentina (2004-2012), the paper shows the paper shows empirically that rents from mining affect dimensions of democracy in distinct ways. As importantly, the paper reveals that these effects differ across mining-producing provinces. One key variable that explains this variation is the type of ownership structure through which mining is exploited. Where ownership is privately dominated, liberal democracy thrives. By contrast, where the state plays an important role in the mining sector, liberal democracy backslides. Electoral democracy, in turn, is less affected by these variables.