Happiness and the resource curse

Sabna Ali, Syed Mansoob Murshed, Elissaios Papyrakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


There has been increasing interest in the so-called ‘resource curse’: the tendency of resource-rich countries to underperform in several socio-economic outcomes. More recently, several papers have looked beyond the traditional impact on economic growth and instead focused on the effects upon broader human welfare indicators. A separate empirical literature in recent decades has probed into the determinants of happiness and subjective well-being (using either country or household data). Our paper contributes to the literature by bringing these two empirical strands of research together. This is the first study, to our knowledge, that makes use of a large panel dataset to explore the links between changes in happiness across countries and several measures of resource wealth. Consistent with prior empirical evidence of a resource curse in oil-rich nations, we find that oil rents are negatively linked to improvements in happiness over time. This happiness ‘resource curse’ curse appears to be oil-specific and holds both for the levels as well as changes in happiness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437–464
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number2
Early online date23 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Cross-country analysis
  • Happiness
  • Mining
  • Resource curse

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