Business & economics, Politics & society, Research

Berkeley Talks: Why racial equity belongs in the study of economics

An interdisciplinary perspective on how the field of economics discounts Black and Latinx experiences, and why it's time for that to change

Read the transcript.

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protester holding a sign that reads "people over property"

People protest for racial justice in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Von via Unsplash)

“Economists begin with this notion of the free market invisible hand, and we need to be clear that the hand has a color — it’s a white hand, let me say, a white male hand,” said Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a professor of sociology at Duke University. … I was a major in sociology and economics… I ended up choosing sociology, in part because of the foundation of economics is assumptions about the rational actor making decisions on a cost-benefit basis in something called efficient market. And we all know that the Homo sapiens — they’re a complex animal shaped by multiple social forces and group divisions.”

Bonilla-Silva joined a panel of scholars — Daina Ramey Berry, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin; Arjumand Siddiqi, a professor in the Department of Public Health at the University of Toronto; and Mario Small, a sociology professor at Harvard University — for a discussion on July 13, 2020, about how the conceptual approaches of economics discount Black and Latinx perspectives, and what they think economics could learn from other disciplines. The discussion was moderated by Sandy Darity, a professor of economics, public policy and African and African American studies at Duke University.

This talk was sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Department of Economics and Economics for Inclusive Prosperity, co-founded by Berkeley economics professor Gabriel Zucman. Watch a video of the discussion below.

Listen to the discussion in Berkeley Talks episode #90: “Why racial equity belongs in the study of economics.”