The First Law of Petropolitics


  • Romain Wacziarg


We examine empirically the relationship between crude oil prices and the ebb and flow of democratic institutions, in order to test the hypothesis that high oil prices undermine democracy and sustain autocracy. We use a variety of time series and panel data methods over a wide range of country subsamples and time periods, finding strictly no evidence in favour of this so-called ‘First Law of Petropolitics’ (Friedman 2006).