An Evaluation of the Relationship Between Oil Dependence and Regime Stability in the Middle East

Open Access
Boyce, Mary Joanna
Area of Honors:
International Politics
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • James A Piazza, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Barth Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • oil
  • middle east
  • politics
  • regime
  • stability
  • durability
  • rentier states
  • petropolitics
  • resource curse
A world in which oil is unable to continue to sustain such high levels of revenues for oil exporters is fast approaching. In the past six months, oil prices have dropped sixty percent and as demand growth is also on the decline, this trend has the potential to continue. This decline is in large part attributed to the recent successes in the development of new oil extracting technologies as well as increases of environmentally friendly alternatives. Many Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, depend on oil revenues to provide subsidized programs for their citizens. These programs allow the regime greater freedom from their citizens as well as increased control. However a lack of oil revenues would in turn transfer to a lack of the necessary money to fund such programs, likely generating greater unrest among the citizens of the country. This project examines the link between oil dependence and regime stability through a statistical historical time-series analysis to uncover whether they experienced instability in the past during years of decreased oil revenues. My project finds statistically significant relationships between my measures of dependence: countries’ oil rents as a percentage of GDP, the US oil purchase price, and US levels of imports by country and my measures of regime change and regime durability.