SCARCITY: Productive resources are limited. Therefore, people can not have all the goods and services they want; as a result, they must choose some things and give up others.
Students will be able to use this knowledge to: Identify what they gain and what they give up when they make choices.
Students face many choices every day. Is playing video games the best use of their time? Is working at a fast-food restaurant better than the best alternative job or some other use of their time? Identifying and systematically comparing alternatives enables people to make more informed decisions and to recognize often overlooked relevant consequences of choices they or others make.
Some students believe that they can have all the goods and services they want from their family or from the government because goods provided by family or by governments are free. But this view is mistaken. Resources have alternative uses, even if parents or governments own them. For example, if a city uses land to build a football stadium, the best alternative use of that land must be given up. If additional funds are budgeted for police patrols, less money is available to hire more teachers. Explicitly comparing the value of alternative opportunities that are sacrificed in any choice enables citizens and their political representatives to weigh the alternatives in order to make better economic decisions. This analysis also makes people aware of the consequences of their actions for themselves and others, and could lead to a heightened sense of responsibility and accountability.
DECISION MAKING: Students will understand that:
Effective decision making requires comparing the additional costs of alternatives with the additional benefits. Many choices involve doing a little more or a little less of something: few choices are "all or nothing" decisions.
Students will be able to use this knowledge to: Make effective decisions as consumers, producers, savers, investors, and citizens.
INCENTIVES: Students will understand that: People usually respond predictably to positive and negative incentives.
Students will be able to use this knowledge to: Identify incentives that affect people's behavior and explain how incentives affect their own behavior.