In economics, the Dutch disease is the apparent causal relationship between the increase in the economic development of a specific sector (for example natural resources) and a decline in other sectors (like the manufacturing sector or agriculture).

The term was coined in 1977 by The Economist to describe the decline of the manufacturing sector in the Netherlands after the discovery of the large Groningen natural gas field in 1959.[1]

The presumed mechanism is that as revenues increase in the growing sector (or inflows of foreign aid), the given nation's currency becomes stronger (appreciates) compared to currencies of other nations (manifest in an exchange rate). This results in the nation's other exports becoming more expensive for other countries to buy, and imports becoming cheaper, making those sectors less competitive.

While it most often refers to natural resource discovery, it can also refer to "any development that results in a large inflow of foreign currency, including a sharp surge in natural resource prices, foreign assistance, and foreign direct investment".[2]


Natural gas concessions in the Netherlands (June 2008), the Netherlands accounts for more than 25% of all natural gas reserves in the EU.
Natural gas concessions in the Netherlands (June 2008), the Netherlands accounts for more than 25% of all natural gas reserves in the EU.

The classic economic model describing Dutch disease was developed by the economists W. Max Corden and J. Peter Neary in 1982. In the model, there is a non-tradable sector (which includes services) and two tradable sectors: the booming sector, and the lagging (or non-booming) tradable sector. The booming sector is usually the extraction of natural resources such as oil, natural gas, gold, copper, diamonds or bauxite, or the production of crops, such as coffee or cocoa. The lagging sector is usually manufacturing or agriculture.

A resource boom affects this economy in two ways:

  1. In the "resource movement effect", the resource boom increases demand for labor, which causes production to shift toward the booming sector, away from the lagging sector. This shift in labor from the lagging sector to the booming sector is called direct deindustrialization. However, this effect can be negligible, since the hydrocarbon and mineral sectors tend to employ few people.[3]
  2. The "spending effect" occurs as a result of the extra revenue brought in by the resource boom. It increases demand for labor in the non-tradable sector (services), at the expense of the lagging sector. This shift from the lagging sector to the non-tradable sector is called indirect deindustrialization.[3] The increased demand for non-traded goods increases their price. However, prices in the traded good sector are set internationally, so they cannot change. This amounts to an increase in the real exchange rate.[4]

Resource-based international trade

In a model of international trade based on resource endowments as the Heckscher–Ohlin/Heckscher–Ohlin-Vanek, the Dutch disease can be explained by the Rybczynski Theorem.


Simple trade models suggest that a country should specialize in industries in which it has a comparative advantage; so a country rich in some natural resources would be better off specializing in the extraction of those natural resources.

However, other theories suggest that this is detrimental, for example when the natural resources deplete. Also, prices may decrease and competitive manufacturing cannot return as quickly as it left. This may happen because technological growth is smaller in the booming sector and the non-tradable sector than the non-booming tradable sector.[5] Because that economy had smaller technological growth than did other countries, its comparative advantage in non-booming tradable goods will have shrunk, thus leading firms not to invest in the tradables sector.[6]

Also, volatility in the price of natural resources, and thus the real exchange rate, limits investment by private firms, because firms will not invest if they are not sure what the future economic conditions will be.[7] Commodity exports such as raw materials drive up the value of the currency. This is what leads to the lack of competition in the other sectors of the economy. The extraction of natural resources is also extremely capital intensive, resulting in few new jobs being created.[8]


There are two basic ways to reduce the threat of Dutch disease: slowing the appreciation of the real exchange rate, and boosting the competitiveness of the adversely affected sectors. One approach is to sterilize the boom revenues, that is, not to bring all the revenues into the country all at once, and to save some of the revenues abroad in special funds and bring them in slowly. In developing countries, this can be politically difficult as there is often pressure to spend the boom revenues immediately to alleviate poverty, but this ignores broader macroeconomic implications.

Sterilization will reduce the spending effect, alleviating some of the effects of inflation. Another benefit of letting the revenues into the country slowly is that it can give a country a stable revenue stream, giving more certainty to revenues from year to year. Also, by saving the boom revenues, a country is saving some of the revenues for future generations. Examples of these sovereign wealth funds include the Australian Government Future Fund, Iranian national development fund, the Government Pension Fund in Norway, the Stabilization Fund of the Russian Federation, the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan, Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund of Alberta, Canada, the Permanent School Fund and Permanent University Fund of Texas, the Alaska Permanent Fund and the Future Generations Fund of the State of Kuwait established in 1976. Recent[when?] talks led by the United Nations Development Programme in Cambodia – International Oil and Gas Conference on fueling poverty reduction – point out the need for better education of state officials and energy CaDREs (Capacity Needs Diagnostics for Renewable Energies) linked to a sovereign wealth fund to avoid the resource curse (Paradox of plenty).[9]

Another strategy for avoiding real exchange rate appreciation is to increase saving in the economy in order to reduce large capital inflows which may appreciate the real exchange rate. This can be done if the country runs a budget surplus. A country can encourage individuals and firms to save more by reducing income and profit taxes. By increasing saving, a country can reduce the need for loans to finance government deficits and foreign direct investment.

Investments in education and infrastructure can increase the competitiveness of the lagging manufacturing or agriculture sector. Another approach is government protectionism of the lagging sector, that is, increase in subsidies or tariffs. However, this could worsen the effects of Dutch disease, as large inflows of foreign capital are usually provided by the export sector and bought up by the import sector. Imposing tariffs on imported goods will artificially reduce that sector's demand for foreign currency, leading to further appreciation of the real exchange rate.[10]


It is usually difficult to be certain that a country has Dutch disease because it is difficult to prove the relationship between an increase in natural resource revenues, the real-exchange rate, and a decline in the lagging sector. An appreciation in the real exchange rate could be caused by other things such as productivity increases in the Balassa-Samuelson effect, changes in the terms of trade and large capital inflows.[11] Often these capital inflows are caused by foreign direct investment or to finance a country's debt. However, evidence does exist suggesting that unexpected and very large oil and gas discoveries do cause the appreciation of the real exchange rate and the decline of the lagging sector across affected countries on average.[12]


See also


  1. ^ "The Dutch Disease". The Economist. 26 November 1977. pp. 82–83.
  2. ^ Ebrahim-zadeh, Christine (March 2003). "Back to Basics – Dutch Disease: Too much wealth managed unwisely". Finance and Development, A quarterly magazine of the IMF. IMF. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2008. This syndrome has come to be known as "Dutch disease". Although the disease is generally associated with a natural resource discovery, it can occur from any development that results in a large inflow of foreign currency, including a sharp surge in natural resource prices, foreign assistance, and foreign direct investment. Economists have used the Dutch disease model to examine such episodes, including the impact of the flow of American treasures into sixteenth-century Spain and gold discoveries in Australia in the 1850s.
  3. ^ a b Corden WM (1984). "Boom Sector and Dutch Disease Economics: Survey and Consolidation". Oxford Economic Papers. 36 (3): 362. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.oep.a041643.
  4. ^ Corden WM, Neary JP (1982). "Booming Sector and De-industrialisation in a Small Open Economy" (PDF). The Economic Journal. 92 (December): 825–48. doi:10.2307/2232670. JSTOR 2232670. S2CID 154188130.
  5. ^ Van Wijnbergen, Sweder (1984). "The 'Dutch Disease': A Disease After All?". The Economic Journal. 94 (373): 41–55. doi:10.2307/2232214. JSTOR 2232214. S2CID 154545481.
  6. ^ Krugman, Paul (1987). "The Narrow Moving Band, the Dutch Disease, and the Competitive Consequences of Mrs. Thatcher". Journal of Development Economics. 27 (1–2): 50. doi:10.1016/0304-3878(87)90005-8.
  7. ^ Gylfason, Thorvaldur; Herbertsson, Tryggvi Thor; Zoega, Gylfi (1999). "A Mixed Blessing". Macroeconomic Dynamics. 3 (2): 204–225. doi:10.1017/S1365100599011049. S2CID 152313708.
  8. ^ "It's only natural". The Economist. 9 September 2010.
  9. ^ Karl, Terry Lynn (1997). The paradox of plenty : oil booms and petro-states. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520918696. OCLC 42855014.
  10. ^ Collier, Paul (2007). "The Bottom Billion". Oxford University Press, p. 162
  11. ^ De Gregorio, José; Wolf, Wolger C. (1994). "Terms of Trade, Productivity, and the Real Exchange Rate". NBER Working Paper No. 4807. SSRN 6891.
  12. ^ Harding, Torfinn; Stefanski, Radek; Toews, Gerhard (August 2020). "Boom Goes the Price: Giant Resource Discoveries and Real Exchange Rate Appreciation". The Economic Journal. 130 (630): 1715–1728. doi:10.1093/ej/ueaa016.
  13. ^ a b Corden (1984), 359
  14. ^ Peter Martin (30 August 2012). "Warning: After the boom it'll be Dutch and go". Sydney Morning Herlad.
  15. ^ Paul Cleary (11 November 2007). "Mining boom could bust us". Melbourne: The Age.
  16. ^ Peter Ker; Ben Schniders (6 September 2011). "Labor woeful on economic reform, Says Argus". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  17. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Boom and gloom". The Economist. 8 March 2007.
  19. ^ Lee Greenberg (20 July 2011). "Growing Equalization Payments to Ontario Threaten Country". National Post.
  20. ^ Michel Beine; Charles S. Bos; Serge Coulombe (January 2009). "Does the Canadian economy suffer from Dutch Disease?" (PDF).
  21. ^ McCawley, Peter (March 1980). "Indonesia's New Balance of Payments Problem: a Surplus to get rid of". Ekonomi Dan Keuangan Indonesia. 28 (1): 39–58.
  22. ^ Shehabi, Manal (July 2020). "Quantifying Dutch disease effects and asymmetry in economic responses to oil price volatility in Kuwait". The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
  23. ^ "Our Continent, Our Future" Archived 16 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Mkandawire, T. and C. Soludo. "In most recent attempts to explain Africa's performance with growth and investment regressions, studies find that inaccessible location, poor port facilities, and the 'Dutch Disease' syndrome, caused by large natural-resource endowments, constitute serious impediments to investment and growth".
  24. ^ "Strong forex inflows now hurting economy", GMANews.TV.
  25. ^ "Dutch Disease Hits Russia" Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Latsis, O. (2005). Moscow News, 8–14 June.
  26. ^ Mining accounts for most of the economic growth
  27. ^ Drelichman, Mauricio (1 July 2005). "The curse of Moctezuma: American silver and the Dutch disease". Explorations in Economic History. 42 (3): 349–80. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.eeh.2004.10.005.
  28. ^ Bjørnland, Hilde (1998). "The Economic Effects of North Sea Oil on the Manufacturing Sector". Scottish Journal of Political Economy. 45 (5): 553–585. CiteSeerX doi:10.1111/1467-9485.00112.
  29. ^ Sisira Jayasuriya and Peter McCawley (2008), "Reconstruction after a Major Disaster: Lessons from the Post-tsunami Experience in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand", ADBI Working Paper No 125.
  30. ^ "Venezuela – Exchange Rate". FocusEconomics. 24 August 2015.
  31. ^ Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose (10 October 2016). "Britain should embrace weaker pound and it needs to fall further, says former BoE governor and currency guru". Telegraph. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  32. ^ Christensen, John; Shaxson, Nick; and Wigan Duncan (5 January 2016). "The Finance Curse: Britain and the World Economy". The British Journal of Politics and International Relations.
  33. ^ Kaminska, Isabella (12 October 2016). "Brexit and Britain's dutch disease". The Financial Times.
  34. ^ Mody, Ashoka (18 November 2016). "Unwinding of the pound carry trade".
  35. ^ Krugman, Paul (11 October 2016). "Notes on Brexit and the Pound". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  36. ^ MacAskill, Andrew (24 March 2017). "How banks lost the ear of Britain's government over Brexit". Reuters. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  37. ^ Armstrong, Angus (14 October 2016). "Pound in your pocket". National Institute of Economic and Social Research. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  38. ^ Kwon, Doris; Sorenson, Olav (13 September 2021). "The Silicon Valley Syndrome" (PDF). ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  39. ^ Oliver, Steven; Jablonski, Ryan; Hastings, Justin V. (2017). "The Tortuga Disease: The Perverse Effects of Illicit Foreign Capital" (PDF). International Studies Quarterly. 61 (2): 312. doi:10.1093/isq/sqw051.

Further reading