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Race in Economics

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Race in Economics

Economists and policymakers need a wake-up call to root out racial discrimination

Finance & Development ,

5 min read
3 take-aways
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Addressing racial bias in economics starts within the profession itself. 

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Economists examine the sources of social phenomena such as well-being, wealth creation and poverty. But they have paid little attention to the role that individual and institutional racism plays in the field of economics itself, according to this thought-provoking article by IMF executives Martin Čihák, Montfort Mlachila and Ratna Sahay. In noting the profession’s discriminatory practices, the authors persuasively argue that understanding the origins of prejudice is essential to eliminating it.


Racial bias has long permeated economic thinking.

The field of economics studies factors affecting the financial well-being of individuals and nations. Yet the profession has not adequately analyzed the effects of racism on economies or societies. In fact, racism inflicts economic damage on everyone. 

Racial bias has long permeated economic thinking and its institutional practices; a 1965 article by a noted economist termed Black people “inferior” and in need of encouragement to work. Academic journals have barely addressed...

About the Authors

Martin Čihák runs the macrofinancial unit in the IMF’s Strategy, Policy and Review Department. Montfort Mlachila is the IMF’s senior resident representative in South Africa. Ratna Sahay is a deputy director of the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department. 

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