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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.