Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, April 11, 2005

Capital-Labour Substitution:
An Example from UAE

The Emirates Economist has a short piece and link about the use of robots instead of jockeys in camel-racing.

"With the introduction of this law and the production of the first generation of robot jockeys in August this year, the UAE will have adhered to the international regulations governing camel-racing while at the same time preserving the traditional character of camel races as a popular local heritage."

Here is an earlier piece on capital-labour substitution in the fast food industry.

The economics is similar: in fast-food restaurants, the capital-labour substitution occurs because of rising real minimum wages (primarily for young people); in camel-racing, the capital-labour substitution takes place because of bans on the use of children as jockeys. See here and here for additional references.

I find it interesting that the countries holding camel races presumably find it more efficient to substitute capital for labour than to monitor the ages of the jockeys.

Update: belatedly, others have become intrigued by the issue as well, but none so thoroughly as the Emirates Economist. See here for his latest on how the robot operators will have to have good video-game skills -- lots of great job opportunities for racing camels.

How will the authorities monitor the ages of the remote control operators?
Will this solution be less costly than monitor ages of camel jockeys? Perhaps so, if jockeys tend to come from jurisdictions that provide little in the way of birth-certificate documentation.
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