This article reviews the recent literature on the developmental effects of resource abundance, assessing likely effects and channels with respect to key development outcomes. To date, this area has received less analysis, although it is relevant to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals agenda, as a significant number of the world's poor live in African resource-rich economies. We argue that the presence of a natural resource sector per se does not necessarily translate into worse development outcomes. The natural resource experience varies to a significant extent. Countries with similar levels of resource rents can end up with significantly different achievements in terms of income inequality, poverty, education, and health. The challenge is to explain the different natural resource experiences. A pivotal mechanism behind the developmental effects of the natural resources sector is the type of states and political institutions that resource-abundant economies develop.