Compare/contrast the control of natural resources/minerals in many African countries with the United States. Specifically focus on the role of property rights and the control of these rights.

ECON 200: Microeconomics Required Assessment

Introduction to Assignment

Africa, by almost any measure, is the wealthiest continent in terms of natural resources yet, a large percentage of the continent’s population lives in poverty and continually struggles with civil strife. The material you covered in this course can help us to explain why economic development in many African Countries is still lagging behind other nations of the world.

In this assignment, you are required to write a research paper on the general topic of natural resource extraction and utilization in two countries of your choice from Sub-Saharan Africa. You can select any two countries from the list of Sub-Saharan Countries available at


To prepare for your research, you are to review material from the following 3 chapters of the class text.

·         Externalities (Chapter 10)

·         Public Goods and Common Resources (Chapter 11)

·         Income Distribution and Poverty (Chapter 20)

In addition, scan the background papers listed below and read at least one of the background papers or books in detail. Feel free to also seek out additional information.

Development of Thesis

Listed below are possible research questions that could help formulate the topic for your paper. In every case, be sure to support your thesis with concrete examples from your research of African Countries and with economic theory. Factual information about countries must be supported with valid sources and economic theory should be cited (either from your text or from academic publications).  In addition, you must include your own analysis, in your own words, based on your sources and references. Be sure to tie together the information you present so that the main theme is clear to the reader; do not assume that the reader can guess why you are including the information.

Select two African countries based on your review of background papers and any additional information you have discovered in your background preparation. You will use these two countries in addressing your research question.


Possible Research Questions

1.      Compare/contrast the control of natural resources/minerals in many African countries with the United States. Specifically focus on the role of property rights and the control of these rights. Give examples and support your claim with evidence and economic theory.

2.      Given the current situation in many African countries, do we see the Tragedy of the Commons occurring? Consider not only how the “tragedy” is impacting the current population but also how hit may be devastating to coming generations. Give examples and support your claim with evidence and economic theory.

3.      Should political leaders have the ability to control natural resources? What advantages and disadvantages might there be to such control in theory? What has been the actual experience? What evidence is there of the theoretical advantages and disadvantages in practice? Who has benefited from resource allocation decisions?

4.      What externalities result from the situation where political leaders control the resources and subsequently appropriate the income and wealth from these resources? Do political leaders have the same goals as citizens of a country in directing resources? You might consider actual and possible uses of resources including military, personal gain of leaders, infrastructure, public health, education, and any others you can think of.  Where are resources currently directed? What are the opportunity costs of using resources in this way? Is the current allocation of resources efficient?  Could resources be better allocated? Support your claims with evidence and economic theory.

5.      What responsibility do developed countries have in alleviating the strife caused by the appropriation of resources by political leaders in African countries? Is there any validity to the claim that citizens of poorer countries are exploited by individuals in developed countries who make deals with political leaders for the nation’s resources? Is there action that can be taken by developed countries to help alleviate the problem? Has such action ever been taken? Be sure to support your claims with evidence from valid sources.

6.      What market imperfections exist in the allocation of resources in African countries? What steps could be taken to either remove or ease the imperfections to allow the market mechanisms to function efficiently?

Minimum Requirements

The paper will be 6-8 pages in length not counting the cover page or reference page.

APA format must be used. The paper will include a cover page, abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, and reference page.

The introduction must clearly identify your research question and the countries you are using to support your thesis.

While the paper will be written in narrative reporting form, it will address a set of issues related to an overall research question. Do not enumerate or bullet the questions or issues in list form. Include the information that addresses the questions and issues in the body of the paper.

Information should be summarized and paraphrased as much as possible. Direct quotes should be limited to ideas that cannot be expressed in words other than those used by the source. A good guideline is to have direct quotes represent no more than 5% of the paper, not including statistics and the reference page. Substantial points will be deducted if more than 8% of the paper is directly quoted, and the paper will not be accepted if more than 30% is directly quoted.

Scholarly sources and/or reputable news sources must be used to validate factual information and to support critical analysis. There must be at least three such scholarly sources and/or reputable news sources cited in addition to information that may be taken from the assigned readings and course text. Editorials, opinion pages, commentaries, and blogs that are posted at news media web pages are not to be used for this purpose (that is, to validate factual information and to support critical analysis). Sources must be recent (within the last 5 years).

Opinion pages such as those mentioned above and user-contributed websites may be used in addition to scholarly and reputable sources to demonstrate the viewpoint(s) of those potentially affected by policy, but may not be used to validate factual information.

Students are not limited to suggested resources; other reputable websites are also permitted. In evaluating a website, consider the credentials of the author of the article being cited. If there is any doubt the credibility of the source, check with your instructor.

Suggested Resources

List of Sub-Saharan Countries

Background Articles

·         Delivering on the promise Leveraging natural resources to accelerate human development in Africa. (Gates Foundation and African Development Bank, 6/2015)


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