Surprisingly, there has been little research conducted about the cross-country relationship between oil dependence/abundance and income inequality. At the same time, there is some tentative evidence suggesting that oil rich nations tend to under-report data on income inequality, which can potentially influence the estimated empirical relationships between oil richness and income inequality. In this paper we contribute to the literature in a twofold manner. First, we explore in depth the empirical relationship between oil and income inequality by making use of the Standardized World Income Inequality Database – the most comprehensive dataset on income inequality providing comparable data for the broadest set of country-year observations. Second, this is the first study to our knowledge that adopts an empirical framework to examine whether oil rich nations tend to under-report data on income inequality and the possible implications thereof. We make use of Heckman selection models to validate the tendency of oil rich countries to under-report and correct for the bias that might arise as a result of this – we find that oil is associated with lower income inequality with the exception of the very oil-rich economies.

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Resource and Energy Economics
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Parcero, O. J., & Papyrakis, E. (2016). Income inequality and the oil resource curse. Resource and Energy Economics, 45, 159–177. doi:10.1016/j.reseneeco.2016.06.001