Are resource-poor countries really better off?

This morning I noticed several development folks and journalists sharing an article from Kenya's  Daily Nation newspaper which appears to show the "resource curse" in action: 

Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa declined faster in countries without minerals than in those with them in the 10 years to 2011, a new report shows.

The World Bank report released last week says poverty in the poor countries declined by 16 percentage points to an average of 49 per cent in 2011 compared to 65 per cent recorded in 2000. In those with minerals, poverty declined by only seven percentage points in 10-years.

That's all true, but it's not quite the whole story from the data in the World Bank's Africa Pulse report. Resource-poor African countries may have grown faster over this period, but as the chart below shows, they were starting from a much lower place:

Resource rich countries have also enjoyed significantly higher economic growth:

The story may be less that resource-rich countries aren't benefitting from their endowments -- they seem to still be in better shape in terms of growth, povery, and inequality -- than that resource-poor countries are figuring out ways to catch up. Will they pull ahead?

KAMBOU SIA/AFP/Getty Images

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