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.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Students will understand that: Entrepreneurs take on the calculated risk of starting new businesses, either by embarking on new ventures similar to existing ones or by introducing new innovations. Entrepreneurial innovation is an important source of economic growth.
Students will be able to use this knowledge to: Identify the risks, returns, and other characteristics of entrepreneurship that bear on its attractiveness as a career.
Starting a new business, such as a "drive thru" that sells fruit-freezes, is difficult and risky. Challenges abound: hiring and managing the workers to make and serve the freezes, ordering supplies and making sure they arrive on time, giving prompt and courteous service so customers will return, and earning enough money to pay workers, taxes, suppliers and everyone else involved in the production and sales process, while still leaving something for the owner.
Spending money and using resources to supply a product is risky, because costs are incurred before consumers decide whether they will purchase the product at a price sufficiently high to cover the costs. Starting a new business or producing an entirely new product is especially risky because in the case of a new product producers know even less about how consumers will react. Entrepreneurs accept the risks and organize productive resources to get products produced. Profits are the financial incentive and the income that entrepreneurs receive in return for their effort and risk if they are successful. If they aren't successful, losses are the financial incentives that tell entrepreneurs to stop using resources as they have been using them.
Understanding the roles of entrepreneurs, profits, and losses is important to workers, business owners, and consumers. Wages and employment opportunities at a business depend on the business' success in earning profits and avoiding losses. Similarly, public policies that affect the profitability of a business will influence not only the owners and employees of the business, but also the consumers who buy the products produced by the business.
ECONOMIC GROWTH: Students will understand that: Investment in factories, machinery, new technology, and in the health, education, and training of people stimulates economic growth and can raise future standards of living.
Students will be able to use this knowledge to: Predict the consequences of investment decisions made by individuals, businesses, and governments.
Students should recognize that by saving and investing money today they can benefit in the future by being able to buy such things as a car, a compact disk player, a trip to an amusement park, or other things they want that cost more than what they can afford immediately. They will face similar trade-offs throughout their lives. As adults they will save for many things other than toys and vacations including housing, medical expenses, taxes, household and automobile repairs, their children's education, and their own retirement. Savings deposited in banks and other financial institutions earn interest because those savings are loaned to businesses that want to invest in capital goods, or to people who are willing to pay higher interest rates to purchase homes, cars, or other things now rather than later. The new physical capital will, in turn, increase production and promote faster economic growth.
Businesses, governments, and other organizations face decisions similar to those confronting individuals: future benefits that arise from saving and investing today make it worthwhile to sacrifice some current spending. Knowing this will help students understand the various investment and dividend programs adopted by different corporations, as well as public policies involving taxation, spending programs, and investment in infrastructure, education, and other things that will increase future standards of living. It will help them appreciate that a better life in the future often requires patience and sacrifice in the present. It will also help them understand the importance of personal investment in education and training, and of business investments.