Economics is often called the "science of decision making." The decisions that economists analyze range from personal decisions such as how big a pizza to order or whether to buy or lease a new car to the decisions the federal government makes about things like the size of our military. Economists use information about these, and other decisions, to develop indicators that can be used to determine the health of our economy. Just as a physician relies on indicators such as temperature, blood pressure and heart rate to determine the health of a patient, economists use indicators like gross domestic product growth, the unemployment rate and the rate of inflation to predict our nation's economic health.
Do your parents ever ask you to shovel the snow out of your driveway or mow the lawn? Have you ever thought that these jobs are a waste of your time? Perhaps you are right. If it takes you one hour to shovel snow from your driveway, you might reasonably wonder how long it might take if you had a snow-blower. If you spend two hours mowing your yard with a 21-inch cut walking lawn mower, how much more efficient could you be with a 48-inch cut garden tractor? Imagine what life must have been like 200 years ago. The most advanced mode of overland transportation was horse and buggy. Intercontinental travel was limited to wind-powered sailing vessels. Advanced communication meant receiving an outdated letter in the mail. Employment opportunities were limited to the agricultural sector. No indoor plumbing, no electricity, no television, no automobiles, no cellular phones, no overnight business meetings 1000 miles away, and the list goes on. Living standards in the United States have expanded at a very rapid rate over the past two centuries. Economists usually use the output of goods and services per person to measure a nation's standard of living. The level of per capita (per person) U.S. output in 1990 was nine times its size 120 years earlier. In the 1990s alone, the level of output per person in the United States has expanded by several thousand dollars. Inflation adjusted per capita output is now over $28,000. What accounts for this impressive rise in our living standards? Many observers suggest that the explanation of increased prosperity can be found in the productivity improvements of the New Economy.
This lesson focuses on the second estimate of U.S. real gross domestic product for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2012, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on February 28, 2013. The current data and historical GDP data are explained. The meaning of GDP and potential impacts of changes of GDP are explored. This lesson will also raise questions about the impact of the current level of growth on the U.S. economy and individuals.
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Teaching Financial Crises is an eight lesson resource that provides an organizing framework in which to contextualize all of the media attention that has been paid to the recent financial crisis, as well as put it in a historical context. The current events stories, opinion pieces, and other popular media pieces that are today in great supply have generally not connected to educational objectives, historical analysis, and economic processes and concepts that are used in the high school classroom. In Teaching Financial Crises, teachers will find a non-partisan and non-ideological resource to help them simplify and offer balanced perspectives on this challenging subject matter.
3 out of 9 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
Focus: Understanding Economics in U.S. History uses a unique mystery-solving approach to teach U.S. economic history to your high school students.
2 out of 40 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
This revised edition features simulations, role plays, small-group discussions and other active-learning instructional activities to help students explore economic concepts through real-life applications.
2 out of 21 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.