WP105: Rationality, cosmopolitanism, and adjustment fatigue: Public attitudes to economic reform in Zambia

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Working papers
Bratton, Michael and Peter Lolojih

In a context of growing popular fatigue with market-oriented policies, public opinion toward economic reform in Zambia is a mixed bag. As a whole, Zambians neither embrace nor refuse the orthodox package of reforms introduced by the Chiluba government (1991-2001) and sustained under the Mwanawasa presidency (2001-2008). Instead, they distinguish among specific policy measures, accepting price reforms and rejecting institutional change. With only minor modifications, these popular policy preferences are consistent over the past decade. Among social groups, rural dwellers are more likely to be satisfied with economic reform policies than urbanites. Perhaps the most original demographic finding concerns the influence of "cosmopolitanism" - an individual's openness to globalization, for example through information and communication technology - as an explanatory factor driving support for market-oriented policies. Otherwise, in arriving at their opinions about economic reform, Zambians are just as likely to resort to political loyalty - based on partisan attachment to the ruling party - as on economic rationality.