Research / BFI Working PaperDec 21, 2020

Reversing the Resource Curse: Foreign Corruption Regulation and Economic Development

We examine whether foreign corruption regulation reduces corruption and increases the local economic benefits of resource extraction. After a mid-2000s increase in enforcement of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), economic activity (measured by nighttime luminosity) increases by 14% (3%) in African communities within a 10- (25-) kilometer radius of resource extraction facilities whose owners are subject to the FCPA. Local perceptions of corruption decline by 8%. Consistent with changes in existing extraction firms’ business practices contributing to the increase in development, the association between resource production, instrumented by world commodity prices, and local economic activity increases by 40%.