My interest in contemporary economics, particularly labor and behavioral economics, began as a study of historical narration in those fields and a personal interest of determining the first luxury good in research conducted last year. Currently,my research interests surround the relationship between international foreign direct investment into developing nations and resulting economic policymaking in those nations. In particular, I have an interest in the increasing role Israeli influence has played in Sub Saharan Africa. (1) A specific puzzle, or question, I have wondered in this area is regarding the potential influence Israel has had in the widespread economic liberalization in Sub Saharan African labor markets since the early 1980s.(2) Israel’s relation to Sub Saharan African nations itself is a puzzle, as most African nations- aside from the North African nations led by Egypt, who wholly condemn Israel- are generally supportive in open trade agreements with Israel, despite their neighbors being so staunchly opposed to such deals. (3)
I am also interested in the recent trend of economists led by Kahnemann, Tversky and Thaler to focus increasingly on psychological stimuli causing humans to act irrationally, creating the field of behavioral economics. (4) Continuing with the International Relations theme discussed earlier, I would like to study the effects of this theoretical transition from the classical-Austrian school of economics to contemporary economics in Sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly wondering what, if any, business interests are pushing for such a theoretical shift in the region. If I were to pursue this research, the primary difficulty to overcome would be obtaining documents (syllabi, working papers, and statistical data regarding tags and keywords in academic papers) as well as curriculum for economics courses in Sub-Saharan African nations in order to determine the schools of economics primarily taught. This question could be pursued while studying abroad at the AU Center in Nairobi, a location that I am interested in attending. Due to both of these potential research areas requiring large amounts of historical context to effectively understand the relationship between Israel and Sub-Saharan Africa, completely covering the entire field may take more than a year of research to study, leading to continued research in future courses.
(1) Eldad Beck. “Most Greeks believe Israel is our only true ally in the region.” Israel Hayom, July 26, 2019; Grace Wermenbol. “Israel seeks new inroads on the African continent.’ Middle East Institute. February 19, 2019.
(2) Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Rudiger von Arnim. “Economic liberalization and constraints to development in Sub-Saharan Africa.” United Nations Economic and Social Affairs. September 2008.
(3) Franzman, Seth. “Israel’s influence spreads across Africa.” The Tower. February 2017.
(4) Sunstein and Thaler. “Libertarian Paternalism is not an Oxymoron” AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. May 2003