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Reports out over the last couple of days suggest that government spending on free nursery places for 3 year olds since 1998 has not produced any valuable educational or economic outcome. The policy was introduced as part of a series of reforms introduced by Tony Blair when he came to power in 1997. The Blair Government saw it as a method of reducing the differentials between educational attainment of poorer and wealthier sections of society and promoting a speedier return to work for some mothers.
Researchers studying the impact of the policy during the 2002 to 2007 time period, where spending on the policy amounted to more than £7bn found that the education received at age 3 had some impact on attainment at age 5 but any improvements were lost by age 11. The research suggested that the policy had only a minor impact on enabling more women to return to work earlier. Also, there is evidence that 5 out of 6 users of the free place would have gone to a paid-for equivalent at age 3 anyway.
So, does this offer us a good example of government failure in economic and social policy?read more...»
A seasonal quiz challenge for your economics students fresh out of the tutor2u Learning Lab.read more...»
Year 12 students were covering elasticity of demand last week and were given an assignment encouraging them to create a resource on the topic. Some chose a (challenging) snakes and ladders quiz, another group produced a news video. And a third group produced this fine video-scribe production covering the various elasticities of demand.read more...»
Have a read of this fascinating article from the Guardian about the fall in prices for mink fur in China. It struck me that, not only does the article give you several traditional causes of a slump in demand (let's all draw the diagram!) but comes up with a brand new cause of a shift that I've not seen before!
The article suggests that the shift in demand is caused by a warmer than expected winter (tick, weather conditions) and that an increase in the number of educated Chinese people are choosing not to use mink for ethical reasons (tick, change in tastes). It also says that demand has dropped as the Chinese government are clamping down on corporate corruption preventing Chinese directors from accepting luxury goods in return for favourable business decisions - which of our Economics Teacher categories does that fit in?
PS. Look out for the fantastic activity 'Demand Street', which challenges students to work out what change in demand factor is being demonstrated, showcased at this year's Wow Economics Teacher CPD event fro Tutor2u.
Here's a fun resource that's trickier then it sounds. 'Wordsnake' is a resource developed by our very own Graham Prior. At first glance it appears to be a wordsearch as you see a grid of what appears to be 100 random letters. However, the key phrase being tested 'snakes' around the grid rather than being up, down or diagonal as in a normal wordsearch.
Students are given a question on screen with the answer hidden in the grid. Who can be the first to spot the answer and call out its location?
If the answer is not obvious at first, the teacher can press the space bar and the letters reveal themselves one at a time. This version contains 5 questions relating to elasticity and demand.read more...»
I love a story that really can resonate with students and get them 'irked'. It struck me yesterday that reading about a recent Bristol University research paper that claims that school admission policies lead to greater inequality might strike a chord with some young people.
The study suggests that the common policy in the UK of prioritizing admission places in primary and secondary schools based upon how close a student lives to that school continues a cycle of inequality. The argument is that, wealthier people are more able to afford to move to areas with higher performing schools and so are more inclined to do so. People without that facility have less choice in where to send their children and may have to stick with local schools despite their relative poor performance. So the cycle continues ..... poorer people receive a poorer quality education and are therefore less equipped to get the necessary qualifications to earn higher wages.read more...»
We've got another fantastic interactive quiz format for you. This one will help test how much your students have taken in over these first few weeks of the AS course. This activity called 'Four Words' shows students the first four words of a definition of a key phrase. Students must decide if they think they know what the key phrase is (and earn maximum points) or wait to see the rest of the definition and earn lower points. Of course, if they get the answer wrong they get zero points! 15 key phrases are tested.read more...»
You may have seen my post giving you an example of introducing the concept of diseconomies of scale on Sunday where you ask a large team of students to draw an image of Steve Jobs. This next one is nothing like that!
Instead, here's another example of a future-proofed activity that uses a bit of number work to make its point. I'm not saying that you'll get a question like this in the new specification (but who knows?) but this does illustrate the concept of economies of scale using numbers.read more...»
Here's a 10 to 15 minute activity to introduce the concept of diseconomies of scale. The activity asks groups to re-draw an image (in this case, the face of Steve Jobs) onto a grid. The image is held on screen (as part of a Powerpoint slideshow) whilst the groups re-draw the image. The trick is to separate the class into teams of different sizes. So, for example, if you had a class of 16 you could separate it into teams of 6, 4, 3 and 3. All team members must participate and the teams are only given 3 minutes to re-draw the image.
Generally, the larger teams will be less successful as they will get in each other's way. Also, the smaller teams may feel more motivated as they want to beat the bigger teams. A fun way to start talking about diseconomies of scale. You can use the re-drawn images afterwards as a class room poster (with some annotation) to illustrate the point and remind your students of their artistic prowess!
Have you reached that point in the term where you've covered shifting demand and supply curves yet?
Here's a short starter or plenary to test your students knowledge and understanding on the theories of demand and supply. The resource has a single demand and supply diagram with shifted curves and labelled equilibrium points. The test lasts for 3 minutes as a series of changes to the market conditions for Product A are flashed up on the screen. Students need to pay attention, they only have 20 seconds to read the question and work out the new equilibrium point.
All this whilst an Oscar-winning song plays along in the background. Clap along if you know what the song is!read more...»
Here's a couple of quick Crossword activities that you can set in class or as homework from the tutor2u team. They are:
- AS Introductory Economics
- A2 Theory of the Firm
Both come with 15 questions and you can even download the answers if you think you might need some help!read more...»
If, like me, you spent much of the spring and summer of this year being 'gently persuaded' to purchase loom bands and their paraphernalia, you may find this short presentation and task on demand and supply of the product useful.
For many weeks, it seemed almost impossible to undertake a shopping trip with my youngest son without him pointing out the huge selection of available bands and their construction tools. He built up quite a selection or different colours and styles as my vacuum cleaner can happily testify. Then I noticed a tailing off of his requests and noted that this week, when I pointed out a shop selling the rubber bands at half price, he declared that he was no longer interested - even at the reduced rate compared to just 4 weeks ago.
He seemed less than impressed when I pointed out how this was a fine example of how demand and supply impacts upon price. However, many of you may be at the stage where you are going through demand, supply and equilibrium with your AS students.read more...»
Here is an excellent example of how adverse weather conditions can impact on the market price of a staple item in millions of people's supermarket trolleys.read more...»
A hat tip to Hannah Thomas who has spotted a new info graphic on human capital produced by the Office for National Statistics. You can find it here http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/wellbeing/human-capi... with more supporting detail and explanation here http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_374868.pdfread more...»
A new study finds that incentives to switch to green vehicles produce big health benefitsread more...»
How much money do you need for an 'adequate' standard of living? This short video from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation considers the levels of income needed to sustain a modest but adequate life-style in the UK in 2014.read more...»
In this blog, Professor Simon Wren-Lewis from Oxford University bemoans the absence of debate over the notion of a maximum wage - with specific reference to the pay of senior executives.read more...»
A report out yesterday from the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows a dramatic fall in the consumption by young people (aged 11 to 15) of our favourite demerit goods – alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. The report suggests that over the last decade regular smoking fell from 9% to 3% of 11- to 15-year-olds. Regular alcohol drinking dropped from 25% to 9%. Drug use has halved from 12% to 6% over this 10 year period.
This, of course, is very good news with regards to the relative health of our youth. As an economics teacher the first question I would ask my students is how this downturn has been achieved? What has happened either within the market or with government intervention to shift consumption in this way? It could be argued that this represents the most successful example of government intervention into markets to change behaviour and can be attributed to regulation, restriction of use and good old education! Information failure does not appear to have had an impact and the political will to succeed has been fairly uniform among the major parties in power.
For me, of course, it also offers the opportunity to do the next in my series of numerical activities in preparation for the arrival of the new specifications in 2015!read more...»
This is a super report from BBC Newsnight on the issue of our throwaway society and the externalities of waste. How can the link between consumption and the discarding of unwanted and broken products be weakened? What role can innovation play - for example the rise of modular phones where parts can be replaced when broken. The fundamental problem is that traditional manufacturing business models are based on mass production and sales. How are increasing world commodity prices affecting this model?read more...»
People do care about fairness, social norms and not just about a cold calculation of marginal cost and marginal benefit. In this excellent short interview on BBC World, Joe Gladstone, Behavioural Scientist at the University of Cambridge, discusses the new form of "Pay What You Want" pricing. This means consumers can decide themselves how much they want to pay for a good or service. The catalyst is that several French hotels are experimenting with a pay what you like approach for their guests.read more...»
Today’s announcement that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are recommending that the High Street Banks’ provision of current accounts should be investigated for lack of competition may not surprise many. The case study may be valuable when looking at competition in oligopolistic markets and a report can be found from this link. The BBC take on the story can be found from this link.
I also thought it offered a chance to do some calculations! Given my current theme of bringing the new levels of assessment of numeracy and quantitative methods in the 2015 specifications of A level economics ever increasingly to the attention of our teaching community, where better to do some number work than when looking at market share in the banking industry!read more...»
The UK Financial Conduct Authority has announced direct interventions in the market for payday loans - the high cost short term loans market which has expanded rapidly in recent years led by businesses such as Wonga. The decision is the result of a detailed assessment of the industry which had flagged up a number of market failures.read more...»
So, farewell then England! Yet another failure by our boys at the highest levels of the game. Despite their stupendous salaries, they seem once again to be unable to exhibit the necessary skills, a point which seems to exercise many fans of the game. Tens of thousands, if not millions, of words have been written about the purely footballing aspect already. But one topic which is hiding away under this torrent is the question of incentives.read more...»
Here is your starter for ten. What do the Uber app and David Ricardo have in common? Ricardo, I hear you ask. Scarcely known outside academic economics, he ranks equal with Adam Smith and Keynes as the greatest ever British economist. His classic Principles of Political Economy was published in 1816. He made millions of pounds on the stock market, at a time when a million was a vast amount of money.read more...»
The varied nature of Economics means there are so many (sometimes it can seem too many) themes to explore. And priorities change. Sometimes the main issue is production (making more stuff – and how the value of that is measured). Sometimes it’s exchange (looking at how markets work). Yet distribution (often overlooked, especially when economies are booming) seems the hottest topic at the moment. Inequality tops the bestseller lists.
Here are a few tips and links for using the topic as an intro to A2 economics, great for macro, with scope for analysis and evaluation of UK government policy and approaches to development economics.read more...»
Trams have been experiencing a revival in a number of towns and cities in the past few decades. Edinburgh is the latest city to invest in trams, and hopes they will boost local economy. But do the benefits outweigh costs? Manchester, Sheffield, Blackpool, Nottingham, Newcastle and Croydon have all installed trams / light rail and others are considering investment.
The Edinburgh trams at running (at last) but the jury will remain out for a long time about their net impact on economic activity, traffic congestion and the broader health of Edinburgh and the local environs.read more...»
I am really grateful to Bob Denham from Econ Films who has shared with us this newly launched video from the International Growth Centre. It focuses on the competitive challenges facing Pakistan's football manufacturing sector as it loses market share to countries such as China and Indonesia. Footballs in Pakistan are still made mainly by hand, stitching together hexagons and pentagons - a process that leads to a lot of waste and higher unit costs and which then affects the profitability of businesses in what is already a low-margin sector.
Could a team of economists find better ways of cutting the patterns for footballs and then align the incentives of workers and owners? This is a fascinating short video which captures many aspects of the Unit 4 development economics course. Enjoy!read more...»
Looking for a quick activity to help test revision of some of the key economic terms needed for the up-coming exams? Here's a nice little test of knowledge that can either be used as an in-class activity or for individual students to use to test their own revision.
Called 'The Usual Suspects', students are given one minute to identify the definitions of as many key phrases from the micro and macro curriculum as they can. Each phrase is shown alongside 4 possible definitions (from the wider pool). Students must identify which is the correct answer. If an incorrect answer is given, the student has to click to remove a 'bar' to allow them to continue with the test.
60 key phrases are included with each of the two resources below, so the activity can be run several times. Who can get the highest score in one minute!
Click on this link for the macro version of the activity.
Click on this link for the micro version of the activity.
A document containing the key diagrams and terms for Unit 1 Micro is streamed below.
For more revision support for AS Micro, visit our dedicated AS Micro blog channel. We also have a free AS Micro revision class on our sister site Zondle and a wide collection of revision notes for AS Micro here on the tutor2u website.read more...»
Demand is the quantity of a good or service that consumers are willing and able to buy at a given price in a given time periodread more...»
Here is a streamed presentation covering sone "Thoughts on Improving Your Economics Papers"read more...»
Here is an updated revision presentation covering aspects of market imperfections / market failure in the UK housing industry.
I have also linked to a recent presentation on the economics of rent controls.read more...»
Britain’s crisis of housing affordability is nothing to do with foreign speculators, according to Paul Cheshire writing in the Spring 2014 issue of CentrePiece magazine. Rather, it is a result of decades of misguided planning policies that constrain the supply of land and turn houses into something like gold or artworks. Houses have been converted from places in which to live into people’s most important financial asset.
Income and wealth inequality in the UK are higher than most people think they are and higher than they think they should be. These are among the messages of a new online infographics film:read more...»
Here is a streamed version of a revision presentation on the Crossrail project, a good example to use when teaching transport economics and the main principles and issues governing a cost benefit analysis approach to infrastructure investment appraisal. It is designed for use with AS and A2 economics students.read more...»
Here are some revision resources on the topic of labour market failure.read more...»
Here is an example of a product which has important market failure implications. BBC Newsnight investigates the open sale of legal highs - not approved for human consumption - but which are a growing presence even on mainstream high streets.read more...»
Here are some revision quizzes for students to check their understanding of market failureread more...»
A production possibility frontier (PPF) shows the maximum possible output combinations of two goods or services an economy can achieve when all resources are fully and efficiently employedread more...»
Revision blog on factor rewards / factor incomes together with a revision quiz to check your understandingread more...»
There are only a finite number of workers, machines, acres of land and reserves of oil and other natural resources on the earth. Because most resources are finite, we cannot produce an unlimited number of different goods and services. Indeed by supplying more for an ever-growing and richer population we are in danger of destroying the natural resources of the planet.read more...»
An economic system is a network of organisations used by a society to resolve the basic problem of what, how much, how and for whom to produce.read more...»
In economics, “there is no such thing as a free lunch!” Even if we are not asked to pay money for something, scarce resources are used up in production and there is an opportunity cost involved.read more...»
Here at tutor2u, we like our acronyms to help students remember key phrases. We're particular fond of any acronym that helps students remember how to structure paragraphs for more complex, evaluative answers that they have to give as part of their examination answers (search this site for WEESTEPS, BEESHATECOD and TWEEP).
Here's another such acronym (hat-tip to Paul Hoang, from Sha Tin College in Hong Kong for showing us this acronym), called 'SLAP the examiner' aimed at evaluation. I guess that this one has the advantage of containing only 4 letters(!).
The acronym stands for:
|L||Long term vs short term implications|
|A||Advantage and disadvantages of policy recommendations|
|P||Priorities of the government or economy.|
Click on this link to download a nice single sheet reminder of the acronym which has been applied to a couple of economics questions.
Our normal laws of demand suggest that as prices increase demand decreases whilst firms attempt to supply more (with the opposite happening as prices decrease). The concept of elasticity extends this understanding by asking the question ‘by how much does demand and supply change?’read more...»
Revision notes from our workshop session 1 covering introductory concepts in Economics. Test yourself with some zondle quizzes embedded below!read more...»
Anti-smoking measures, such as taxes and bans, eventually lead people to eat better and lose weight. That is the central conclusion of research by Luca Savorelli, Francesco Manaresi and Davide Dragone, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 annual conference. The three economists overturn the conventional wisdom that kicking the smoking habit is healthy but results in weight gain.
The introduction of a national minimum wage does not lead to job losses. That is the central finding of research by Peter Dolton and
Michael Stops, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 conference.
Here is an example of reverse capital-labour substitution! A hat tip to Dave Sowden for spotting this one! Read through the article and consider the motivations, opportunities and challenges facing Toyota with this change of approach.
I'm sure that introducing the concept of normative statements is something that most Economics' teachers introduce early in the curriculum to show the dangers of expressing opinions without evidence. It's a tricky balancing act that we have to play - as students start to write longer, evaluative pieces we are keen for them to make reasoned arguments that don't sit on the fence but warn them of the dangers of starting to rant.read more...»