(2023). “Oil discoveries and political windfalls: Evidence on presidential support in Uganda.” Political Science Research and Methods, 2023, forthcoming.
Oil discoveries, paired with delays in production, have created a new phenomenon: sustained postdiscovery, pre-production periods. While research on the resource curse has debated the effects of oil on governance and conflict, less is known about the political effects of oil discoveries absent production. Using comprehensive electoral data from Uganda and a difference-in-difference design with heterogeneous effects, we show that oil discoveries increased electoral support for the incumbent chief executive in localities proximate to discoveries, even prior to production. Moreover, the biggest effects occurred in localities that were historically most electorally competitive. Overall, we show that the political effects of oil discoveries vary subnationally depending on local political context and prior to production, with important implications for understanding the roots of the political and conflict curses.