The New Global Oil Market: Understanding Energy Issues in the World Economy

By Siamack Shojai | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
The Sociopolitical Impact of the Oil Industry in Oil Exporting Countries

Carlos G. Elías

The price of oil more than tripled during the mid- 1970s. The revenues generated by this increase were an opportunity for oil-rich less developed countries (LDCs) to accelerate the process of economic growth and political transformation. Although oil exporting LDCs grew considerably during the mid- to late 1970s, they did very little to diversify their economies. The dependence on oil revenues by these countries has jeopardized the growth of their economies at times when the price of oil remains weak.

It is reasonable to expect that this newfound wealth will increase demand for political participation and transformation. The objective of this chapter is to analyze the sociopolitical impact that oil exports had on oil exporting countries. The impact on Middle East oil exporting countries will be analyzed, and the case of Venezuela, a country that moved from economic expansion in the late 1970s to stagnation and political crises, will be covered.


OIL EXPORTS IN MIDDLE EAST COUNTRIES

Around 60 percent of the world's oil reserves are located in eight Middle East countries. 1 The revenues that oil brought to the region were used to finance big government projects. Oil revenues have increased the per capita income for oil exporters in the region. In order to obtain self-sustained growth, these countries have to invest in capital goods and human capital. One way to measure the level of human capital formation has been by looking at the levels of literacy. In this respect Middle East oil exporting countries score low as compared to other countries (this is especially true for women). 2 And this is despite a 10-15 percent government budget spent on education. In 1980 the literacy rate for male adults in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates was 72, 35,

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