This study analyses the economic developments in Yemen from the 1970s to today in the context of the resource curse hypothesis. After a brief survey of the resource curse literature, using empirical data, historical accounts, and political (economic) analyses, I confirm that post-reunification Yemen suffers from an intense oil curse. The curse is evidenced by low genuine savings rates, oil-dependency, a stagnating economy, and institutional failure. However, this study finds that the institutional failure which caused this is itself a product of the resource-curse-like developments following migrant worker remittances from Saudi Arabia in the 1970s and 1980s. Moreover, the current instability in Yemen has its origins in rent-seeking defections in the corrupt governing patronage network due to sudden anticipations of oil exhaustion. The analysis suggests that worker migration is able to transmit resource curse symptoms to other economies, which makes them also more vulnerable to future resource curse triggers, and that declining resource reserves increase political instability of countries with strong patronage networks.
Resource curse Yemen Oil curse Patronage Remittances Development