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Oil Ownership and Domestic Terrorism

Non-State Violent Actors and Social Movement Organizations

ISBN: 978-1-78714-191-9, eISBN: 978-1-78714-190-2

Publication date: 18 April 2017


A growing literature links oil to conflict, particularly civil war. Greed/opportunity, grievance, and weak state arguments have been advanced to explain this relationship. This chapter builds on the literature on oil and conflict in two important ways. First, I examine a novel dependent variable, domestic terrorism. Much is known about the effect of oil on the onset, duration, and intensity of civil war, though we know surprisingly little about the potential influence of oil on smaller, more frequent forms of violence. Second, I treat oil ownership as a variable, not a constant, coding oil rents based on ownership structure. This is contrary to other related studies that assume oil is necessarily owned by the state. Using a large, cross-national sample of states from 1971 to 2007, several key findings emerge. Notably, publicly owned oil exhibits a positive effect on domestic terrorism. This positive effect dissipates, however, when political performance and state terror are controlled for. Privately owned oil, on the other hand, does not correlate with increased incidences of terror. This suggests that oil is not a curse, per se.



Costello, M. (2017), "Oil Ownership and Domestic Terrorism", Non-State Violent Actors and Social Movement Organizations (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 41), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 107-136.



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