Elites, Oil, and Democratization: A Survival Analysis


  • *Direct correspondence to Mehmet Gurses, Department of Political Science, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Rd., Social Science 384, Boca Raton, FL 33431-0991 〈gurses@fau.edu〉. The data and coding information are available upon request. The author thanks David Mason, John Both, Andrew Enterline, Michael Greig, Francesca Campbell, Dukhong Kim, Robert L. Lineberry, and two anonymous reviewers for their invaluable feedback and contributions.


Objective. This study explores the relationship between natural resource wealth, most notably oil, and democratic survival. I contend that natural resources help sustain democratic regimes by easing social conflict between the rich and the poor. As such, the availability of abundant natural resource revenues alleviates the elites' fear of redistribution of wealth, thereby stabilizing the regime.

Methods. I estimate a series of survival analyses for the period between 1960 and 1999.

Results. Elite support and oil wealth independently help stabilize democracies.

Conclusions. The results bring the widely held views on the link between oil and democracy into question and invite further scrutiny.