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Why Economics Education?

What students should know about economics and why: 6 Key Ideas*

K-12 students should learn economics because they will make important decisions in their roles as workers/entrepreneurs, consumers, borrowers, savers, investors and voters. Their futures and the future of our economy and our democracy depend upon their making informed, reasoned decisions. Economics education shows them how to do that. We don't begin teaching other skills such as mathematics or reading in the 12th grade, so why would we do so with economic reasoning?

Below are six of many ways that economic education can provide students better understanding that will not only be the foundation for personal success, but also contribute to the success of the community and our nation.

1. Benefit/cost analysis should be an integral part of how one makes a decision. Whether a personal, business, or government decision, benefit/cost analysis will encourage sound, thoughtful decision making. How will an employer use benefit/cost analysis to decide whether to hire me or not? Should I go to college after high school or straight to work? Should I buy a particular car now or save to buy a better car later? Should limited education resources be spent on early childhood or gifted and talented programs? Read more ...

2. Taking advantage of school and education to develop one's human capital is essential to setting and reaching goals in life. The more students understand and consider the skills, knowledge, experience, and personal characteristics that contribute to success in our dynamic global economy, the greater the likelihood they will appreciate how continual investment in their human capital will help them achieve their goal. Read more ...

3. What determines the prices we pay? Whether it is the price of a product, what someone will pay for labor, or the cost of credit - understanding the factors that determine price will not only make people better consumers, but will also make them better employees by understanding the market forces that affect the wages employers can pay. Read more ...

4. There is a role for government in a market economy, though not complete agreement on when or in what way government should intervene. In general, government intervention is appropriate whenever the benefits of a government policy or service outweigh the costs. While people will disagree on appropriate government involvement, if any, in particular situations, it is important for all to have a foundational knowledge from which one can intelligently consider the various arguments and draw a reasoned decision. Read more ...

5. Personal finance includes the study of how people earn, use, and manage money. To be effective, Financial Literacy requires an understanding of certain basic economic principles that form the essential foundation for one's ability to manage money and prepare for the future. Read more ...

6. We live in a global economy. What does that mean and what are the challenges and opportunities that come with this? Read more ...

*This document was created by an CEE/NAEE Task Force:
   Jim Charkins (CA), Mary Lynn Reiser (NE), Joanne Dempsey, (IL) and Sarah Finley (VA).