Home > Microeconomics > A Possible First for Africa

A Possible First for Africa


As many of my students are from Africa, and even quite a few from Zambia, I couldn’t help but notice this:

Under the Zambian constitution, if Mr Sata becomes unfit to work he will be replaced by his vice-president, Guy Scott, pending a new election to be held within 90 days. If so, Mr Scott would be the first white man to head an African state since the end of apartheid in South Africa two decades ago. What is more remarkable is that few Zambians seem concerned—a marked contrast from neighbouring South Africa or Zimbabwe, where politics is still riven by questions of race and colonialism.

Race does have an interesting intersection with economics, especially as it relates to rational behavior and self-interest. People shouldn’t harm their self-interest (say, by not hiring workers who contribute marginal value in excess of their marginal costs) due to acting irrationally (just because they are of another race or ethnicity, but no less productive).

Economists generally prize efficiency. Racism and ethnic prejudice tend to reduce efficiency, by distorting the allocation of resources away from their most productive use.

Here’s hoping the future looks more like Zambia, and the U.S., where race seems less of a barrier to political success than it is in other places.

Categories: Microeconomics
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