Economics examples from around the world

In the Spring of 2020, I presented at an economics symposium sponsored by the Journal of Economics Teaching. While I love the journal’s mission, I initially attended the symposium because it was in one of my favorite cities: New Orleans. I especially love the culture and the food! I presented a recent publication at the time detailing how I segment media in my classroom to improve student engagement. It’s something I had been doing for a few years, but I didn’t think much of it until someone talked me into writing a summary of how I do it.

While at the conference, I attended a presentation by Wayne Geerling on a project he started that identified pop culture resources from international markets. He (rightfully) pointed out that almost all of the resources economics educators had developed were from English-speaking countries, most predominantly the United States. He pointed out a few of the international clips hosted on my own Economics Media Library, but even I knew there were only but a few international examples.

We talked after his presentation about ways to combine his project with the Economics Media Library. Wayne and I had worked on previous projects related to The Big Bang Theory, so we were confident in our ability to work together. We teamed up with two other conference attendees, Dirk Mateer and Florencia Gabriele, and set a goal of presenting at the American Economic Association’s Annual Meetings in 2021. Despite the pandemic fully hitting the US only a couple of months later, we were able to put together a working paper, a conference poster, and a webpage. The webpage and poster focused on a wider variety of ways that educators could use more diverse resources in class. The paper focuses on specific examples that can be used in an introductory microeconomics course.

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The paper is currently forthcoming at the Journal for Economic Educators, and will likely be available online in the next few months. One of the reasons we targeted JfEE was because it’s an open-access journal and we wanted to make sure that the resources we identified could be accessed by a wider audience. The working paper version is nearly identical to the accepted paper. We initially identified 12 media clips (music videos, commercials, and tv shows) that could be used in 12 different lessons in the course. Each of those lessons comes from a different country and is presented in the original language, but with English subtitles.

Part of the motivation to develop these resources was based on the work of my friend, Abdullah Al-Bahrani. He has a working paper on improving inclusivity and diversity in economics courses that will likely become a seminal paper on using diverse teaching resources. The economics classroom is a diverse classroom, but our work rarely even touches on topics of diversity based on surveys of educators. Abdullah and others have issued a call to educators to actively work to improve the diversity of their classrooms. We hope that this is a step in that direction.

To give you an idea of the great content out there, check out this car commercial from Volkswagen. One of the classic examples of information asymmetry is the idea of used cars. The seller of the car (the grandmother in this case) knows a lot more about the quality of the car than the buyers do. While buyers may attempt to learn as much as they can, they’ll likely never learn it all. Enjoy!

  • Last year, there were 18,651 page views on the Economics Media Libary from outside the United States [Economics Media Library]

  • Abdullah Al-Bahrani’s YouTube channel, Economics with Dr. A, has 1,350 subscribers [YouTube]

  • George Akerlof’s “The Market for Lemons” paper has over 37,900 citations [Google Scholar]

  • Last year, Volkswagen produced 8.9 million cars across 18 production facilities the world [Volkswagen]

Week 35 is over, but the book total is still at 52. I like to read multiple books at the same time. I often won’t finish a single book in any given week, but then will finish a few in one week. This is one of those weeks where I’ve been making progress in a few different books, but none of them are officially done. I am currently in the middle of reading:

  • Broke, USA

  • The Four Winds

  • Why Superman Doesn’t Take Over the World

  • The Sweetness of Water

  • Where Nobody Knows Your Name

  • I Should Have Quit This Morning

  • Four Hundred Souls

I’m often asked how I can possibly read so many books at one time, but I really treat it like watching tv shows. It’s really easy to bounce between series and still remember things that happened before. I do the same with books and it helps me avoid diminishing returns with any particular book.