The psychology of mineral wealth: Empirical evidence from Kazakhstan

Elissaios Papyrakis, O Parcero*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Despite rapidly-expanding academic and policy interest in the links between natural resource wealth and
development failures – commonly referred to as the ‘resource curse’ – little attention has been devoted to the
psychology behind the phenomenon. Rent-seeking and excessive reliance on mineral revenues can be attributed
largely to social psychology. Mineral booms (whether due to the discovery of mineral reserves or to the drastic
rise in commodity prices) start as positive income shocks that can subsequently evolve into influential and
expectation-changing public and media narratives; these lead consecutively to unrealistic demands that favor
immediate consumption of accrued mineral revenues and to the postponement of productive investment. To our
knowledge, this paper is the first empirical analysis that tests hypotheses regarding the psychological underpinnings of resource mismanagement in mineral-rich states. Our study relies on an extensive personal survey
(of 1977 respondents) carried out in Almaty, Kazakhstan, between May and August 2018. We find empirical
support for a positive link between exposure to news and inflated expectations regarding mineral availability, as
well as evidence that the latter can generate preferences for excessive consumption, and hence, rent-seeking.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102706
Number of pages11
JournalResources Policy
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Almat Kenen, Yerkezhan Kenzheali, and Zhibek Kassymkanova for their valuable data collection and processing assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


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