Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Political Science


English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 8-8-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Jeff Gill


Given the importance of oil in any country's energy needs, it should not be surprising that the increasing volatility of oil prices in the past decades is a challenge for most political systems. While the political and economic impact of natural resource wealth in general is strongly debated, the political consequences of these sudden shifts have gone understudied. This dissertation examines the relationship between politics and oil from a new perspective. First, I implement a Bayesian meta-regression model to assess the state of research on the natural resource curse, finding that the measurement of resources is one of the most important sources of the debate. In the second part of the dissertation, I turn to discussing the impact of fuel prices on politics. I argue that at the domestic level, rational leaders feel pressured to compensate for oil price shocks because they are held accountable for these shifts by their constituents. This hypothesis is tested using Bayesian multilevel models that allow state and time-varying information to be matched to individual survey responses for a sample of voters in nine American states between 2008 and 2009. This chapter shows that fuel prices are related to appraisals of the economy only during electoral periods. The results also provide evidence that the degree to which voters use fuel prices to evaluate the president's performance varies greatly across party lines. At the global level, I posit in the final chapter that cross-country cooperation in other issue areas is pursued to mitigate the economic impact of oil price volatility. By developing a Bayesian bivariate Poisson change-point model and implementing it using MCMC methods, I find that fuel price shifts are related to increased trade networks, especially for oil-exporting countries.


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