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#ukedchat Twitter chat 8pm Thursday 18th December

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Just a quick heads-up about this Twitter chat.

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Market Structures in Transport

An excellent video made for the Economics classroom applying the theory of market structures to the world of transport in Singapore. This is superb as it goes through each transport mode analysing the market structure befitting before digging into the conduct within that market. Terminology used will be familiar to students and will provide that crucial A* level content to exams for a given market structure question. Well worth a watch in a lesson.

Teaching Vacancy - Business Studies and/or Economics at Charters School, Sunningdale

An opportunity to teach Business and Economics at a thriving department here - with our good friends at Charters School in Sunningdale, Berkshire.

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Climate change in the news: Agreement in Lima, the Beijing school ‘dome’ and other solutions

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

With the climate change agreement in Lima national responsibilities are now linked more flexibly to the rate of change of economic growth, placing more responsibility on fasting growing developing nations to do their bit. The US and China have, much like they did at talks for the Kyoto Protocol, limited their commitment to cut pollution. Pollution affects us all and as such is an example of the tragedy of the commons. Global agreements such as those at Lima are essential to try to reduce the growing problems greenhouse gases are causing.

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20p tax on sugary drinks propsed.

Here's one of those stories that help illustrate the point about de-merit goods really well.  The Children's Food Campaign are calling for a specific tax on sugary drinks to help combat obesity in children.  Key points:

  • Sugary drinks is the example of a de-merit good
  • Tax is the proposed strategy for reducing consumption
  • Costs of obesity given here (in terms of number of illnesses that could be reduced)
  • Article gives a counter argument from British Soft Drinks Association using evidence from France

Click here to read the article from The Grocer website

    Christmas quizzes

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    If you are stuck for an idea for the last lesson of term, here are two possibilities. 

    Ian Stewart's Deloitte Monday Briefing this week has a Christmas quiz, with a range of questions which covers, as they put it "a wide-ranging test of knowledge, from the most popular activities during conference calls to the price of Christmas puddings." It has some reasonably serious content, so can give a bit of an excuse for use during an economics lesson.

    Secondly, have a look at this 20-question interactive quiz from the Engaged Learner blog. It has questions about Christmas songs and films, so you can use it as it is as a fun session at the end of a lesson. Alternatively, borrowing an idea from WOW Economics, you can blank out the questions and answers on slide 2 and put your students in two teams; each team writes their own set of questions and answers about the topics they have covered this term, during the first half of the lesson, then sets the quiz for the other team in the second half. You could add to the festive competition by giving each team 20 sweets at the start; for each question they get right, they keep a sweet, but for each one they get wrong, they have to give a sweet to the other team!

    Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

    According to the Guardian, "rarely has a trade agreement invited such hype and paranoia". The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – or proposed free trade pact between the US and the European Union – has triggered apocalyptic prophecies: the death of French culture; an invasion of toxic chlorine chickens into Germany; and Britain’s cherished NHS will become a stripped-down Medicare clone.

    From the point of view of free-trade cheerleaders, EU carmakers will more than double their sales, Europe will be seized by a jobs and growth bonanza and Americans will beg European firms to build their roads and schools. The world’s biggest trading nations will have no choice but to play by the west’s rules in the new world created by TTIP.

    Sounds like a good place for an investigation into rival views – trade liberalisation or protectionism – which is best?

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    The Size of the UK Banking System

    Thursday, December 11, 2014

    AQA ECON4 requires students to have an appreciation of the importance of the UK banking system and the City of London to the UK economy. This clip from the Bank of England helps emphasise this.

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    Nobel prize winning lecture: Jean Tirole

    Jean Tirole giving his Nobel Prize winning lecture on Market Failure and Public Policy

    The games economists play at Christmas

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    Many of you will know that Game Theory is an established branch of economic thought. It can be used to model a wide variety of situations, leading to predictions of the behaviour of economic agents. This blog is for people who are new to that idea.

    I am an enthusiastic player of board games, but regard Monopoly and Risk as pretty awful. Many of my pupils ask to play Monopoly in the last lesson at the end of term. Like a proper Grinch I always say no, but usually use the conversation as an opportunity to raise a discussion about what (if anything) you might learn about economics from the game.

    I was therefore drawn to an article in The Guardian by Paul Mason (who ranted about the banks recently) who argues that “the world is like a real-life game of global domination, where five mighty empires across the globe are gearing up for an economic wargame where there could be no winners”.

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    Plunging commodity prices reignite discussion of primary product dependency

    Tuesday, December 09, 2014

    As world commodity prices plunge, who gains and who loses?

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    Amazon and Tech Change

    A great video to show how technology is changing labour markets: Amazon and their robots

    Amazon's Robot Army - Keva Robots: Watch this clip here.

    A more detailed article can be found here.

    Poverty and inequality: does trickle-down economics work?

    Two reports published in the last 48 hours provide some really useful background for teaching about policies to address the issues of poverty and inequality in developed economies. The Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom was published yesterday, and concluded that because of falling real incomes, delays in paying benefits which people are legitimately entitled to, and sharp rises in fuel bills, many families are "one unexpected bill away from financial crisis".

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    Teaching Vacancy - Economics at St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College (London)

    Monday, December 08, 2014

    A terrific opportunity here to teach Economics at a dynamic and ambitious sixth-form college in London - well worth a look. Details below:

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    What TYPES of capital should we be accumulating?

    Sunday, December 07, 2014

    I like to read Jeff Sachs for his alternative viewpoints. He often writes about investment and has recently argued that the problem with both free-market and Keynesian economics is that they misunderstand the nature of modern investment. Both schools believe that investment is led by the private sector, either because taxes and regulations are low (in the free-market model) or because aggregate demand is high (in the Keynesian model).

    In Sachs’ alternative view, private-sector investment today depends on investment by the public sector. But investment into what? What types of capital should we be accumulating?

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    A lesson in monopsony power

    Many thanks to Newsnight for providing the material for a lesson about monopsony power - if nothing else, it makes a change from taking Tesco as the model for this topic. On Friday, Newsnight carried a report about Premier Foods, a conglomerate which owns many different grocery brands such as Mr Kipling, Ambrosia, Bisto and Oxo. Their allegation is that Premier Foods has been using its power as a major customer to request payments from its suppliers; if they don't pay up, they are 'delisted' from supplying the company. In other words, monopsony power.

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    Unequal Opportunities for UK Actors

    Friday, December 05, 2014

    Julie Walters is the latest actor to claim that opportunities for young actors in the UK are unequal in today's Daily Mirror.  There seems to have been a slew of similar claims in recent months from the likes of Ian Mckellen, Judie Dench, Stephen Morrisey and Stephen McGann. 

    How would economists illustrate this issue?  

    If you are an A2 Economics student (and depending on which awarding body you sit), you may well have covered Marginal Revenue Product, drawn the 'walking stick' MRP curve and applied such a theory to inequality of opportunity for females or people from a minority ethnic background in the UK.  Could the same be applied to acting?

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    Rail fares rise pegged to inflation

    Every so often I read an article and start to tot up the number of economic concepts being covered in just a few words.  This occurred to me again this morning when reading this BBC news article on train fare rises.  Train fares are pegged to July's inflation rate and, as inflation is quite low at the moment, this means that the average rise of 2.2% is also relatively low (although regular train users may still feel aggrieved).

    Have a read yourself and see how many concepts crop up or give them same exercise to your A2 students.  My thoughts are below:

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    PNC Christmas Price Index 2014

    Thursday, December 04, 2014

    American financial services firm PNC have been producing an index of the price of Christmas for many years. They take the carol The 12 Days of Christmas, and calculate the cost of all the 'gifts' given in the carol, then create an index of how much those prices have changed over the last year. They accompany the index with a story-telling video, and they have often made an entertaining, if quirky, Christmas lesson. 

    This year's version is, frankly, a little weird. They have created a 'story' around each of the gifts, which is supposed to bring the carol back to popularity for a new generation. The stories range from a lonely Partridge in a Pear Tree who visits all the other characters in the carol, to videos of milking maids playing a tune, leaping squirrels singing the carol, and hens forming a 'rock band'.

    It's also a bit clunky to work your way through. After watching the intro, if you click on the cross in the top left hand corner you will get the twelve stories to select from, each with a video which will appear underneath the selection. I can't really do justice to it all with a description - but I'm not sure it works quite as well as a Christmas lesson as it has in other years. Have a look and see what you think....perhaps I am missing the point?

    The Angry Economist is back - with an Autumn Statement special edition

    Wednesday, December 03, 2014

    He's back!  Sort of by popular demand!  If you're looking for a quickfire activity for your Economics lessons this week then download the latest edition of the Angry Economist.  Ask your students to choose one of the 8 policies announced in today's Autumn Statement by George Osborne and our favourite curmudgeonly economist randomly chooses an objective to analyse.

    How does the proposed funding for new roads impact on equality for instance?  How does the change in Stamp Duty application affect economic growth.  A fun and quick way to get your students analyzing first thing in your lesson.

    Download the Angry Economist Autumn Statement Edition here.

    UK rail privitisation and franchising

    Has the UK's rail privatisation been a success or failure? This clip, taken from the BBC Daily Politics show last year in 2013 gives students a really good example of the pro and con debate of privatisation of the railways - this especially helps with teaching of the F584 OCR Transport Module. The really good thing about this clip is the fact that it also includes quite a bit of detail on franchising. A good plenary to this lesson would be to show the clip from EconPlusDal on privatisation, also attached below.

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    Using twitter in the Economics Classroom to enhance teaching and learning

    Last week the University of Worcester hosted a Teach Meet event in the West Midlands. I gave a nano presentation (3 mins) on the use of twitter for teaching and learning. The resources I used are attached below.

    I ask all students to follow the Departmental Twitter page and then once a week they must complete one of the extension tasks. The best way for them to do this is usually by using the search function of the hashtag #f581 (for example, this is the name of the OCR Microeconomics Module my students sit) or likewise #f584 (for OCR Transport Economics) but of course, this applies to IB SL and Hl, as well as Pre-U, AQA, Edexcel and other boards.

    Each week I check my students folders, ensuring they have completed the extension work - I find this helps them with the application of theory to real life economic situations, as well as providing some stretch and challenge for the most able. Of course, they do not have to use twitter for this. All my students have the Economist and the Espresso Economist app on their smart phone, as well as the BBC news to name but a few. They are allowed to use any source of reading they chose - but most chose the twitter source as the # search function makes their life a little easier.

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    The risk of a carbon ‘bubble’

    Don’t worry about all the world’s fossil fuels running out. The graphic above suggests that we can’t run the risk of burning all the fuel that we know we have anyway! But if that’s true, then what are all those fossil fuel reserves worth?

    According to the Guardian, the concept of a “carbon bubble” has gained rapid recognition since 2013, and is being taken increasingly seriously by some major financial companies. The concern is that if the world’s governments meet their agreed target of limiting global warming to 2C by cutting carbon emissions, then about two-thirds of proven coal, oil and gas reserves cannot be burned. With fossil fuel companies being among the largest in the world, sharp losses in their value could prompt a stock market crash and a new economic crisis.

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    Regulation

    One of my favourite sources of Economics is that of mjm foodie. This US style video series teaches some basic concepts of Economics (suitable for IB, AS and A2) in a clear and concise way. Although far from being suitable for stretch and challenge, these videos really do cement understanding for your weaker students. I use them as a starter/plenary to lessons and most importantly, students enjoy them. Some other revision/class notes on regulation can be found here.

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    Franchising

    Tuesday, December 02, 2014

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    Economics Questions and Calculations for Oxbridge Candidates

    These two resources, adapted from various books and websites are great practise for your Oxbridge students this and next week as they prepare for their interviews.

    1_Questions_for_Economics_Interview.docx

    2_Answers_and_Questions_for_Economics_Interview.docx

    Teaching Economics After the Crash

    Teaching Economics After The Crash: Radio 4

    "At universities from Glasgow to Kolkata, economics students are fighting their tutors over how to teach the subject in the wake of the crash. The Guardian's senior economics commentator, Aditya Chakrabortty, reports from the frontline of this most unusual and important academic war.

    The banking crash plunged economies around the world into crisis - but it also created questions for economics itself. Even the Queen asked why hardly any economists saw the meltdown coming. Yet economics graduates still roll out of exam halls and off to government departments or the City with much the same toolkit that, just five years ago, produced a massive crash.

    Now economics students around the world are demanding a radical change of course. In a manifesto signed by 65 university economics associations from over 30 different countries, students decry a 'dramatic narrowing of the curriculum' that they say prefers algebra to the real world and teaches them there's only one way to run an economy.

    As fights go, this one is desperately ill-matched - in one corner, young people fighting to change what they're taught; in the other, the academics who've built careers researching and teaching the subject. Yet the outcome matters to all of us, as it is a battle over the ideas that underpin how we run our economies.

    Aditya meets the students leading arguing for a rethink of economics. He also talks to major figures from the worlds of economics and finance, including George Soros, the Bank of England's chief economist Andy Haldane, and Cambridge author Ha-Joon Chang."

    Listen to it here. 

    Coursera module: Behavioural Economics

    Monday, December 01, 2014

    Colleagues who have used Coursera [www.coursera.org] may have noticed there are some new options available in economics. Some are at undergraduate level but others aim to provide a short introduction to new areas of thinking.

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    Teaching resource to introduce budget cuts to Local Government Spending

    If you're looking at government intervention to correct market failure then you may find this 5 minute resource of value.  Using statistics compiled from Professor Tony Travers of the LSE, highlighted in this article, it asks students to predict which local government budget areas will see the largest cuts by 2018.

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    Some more WoW from WoW delegates: Gapminder and Memrise

    Sunday, November 30, 2014

    WoW economics training days these past few weeks have been a great way to swap ideas with teachers of economics, both new and experienced. One of the beauties of such events is being able to network with colleagues who've used less well known online resources available to support us economics teachers.

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    In praise of short termism

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    The often used quote from Keynes (‘in the long run we’re all dead’) is usually invoked to attack the view that if we wait long enough, things will get back to normal (i.e. markets will equilibrate). The problem is, we might be waiting a long time. Action may well be needed to speed things along.

    But the widespread view is that it’s always best to be planning for the long term. Conventional wisdom says that firms that focus on the short term are misguided. Yet a recent article has received attention because it argues that a short term world view isn’t always so unwise.

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    Who owns Britain

    Friday, November 28, 2014

    Who owns Britain? A very informative programme on ITV last night, useful for both analysing FDI and foreign mergers and takeovers. It is on ITV player for 30 days. See here

    Some of our best loved British brands, including HP Sauce, Heathrow Airport and Cadbury are now foreign owned.

    A third of the UK's infrastructure including energy and transport is owned overseas.

    And of the top British quoted companies in the UK, more than half the investment in those companies is by foreign investors.

    Some argue that it is vital for our jobs and wages that Britain remains such an attractive place for foreign investment.

    Others are concerned that we have given up control of the country's "crown jewels". 4 of the UK’s so called “big six” energy suppliers are foreign owned, including the state owned French firm EDF...

    Is Globalisation making a comeback?

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    Globalisation ebbs and flows. There has been remembrance of the events of a century ago, when a rising tide of globalisation suffered a colossal retreat. Many observers watching the aftermath of the world crash of 2008 feared the same. Suddenly the headlines about the world becoming ‘flatter’ and more interconnected gave way to talk of fragmented financial markets, stalled trade talks and growing popular nationalism. Some economists have predicted another era of “deglobalisation”. 

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    Teacher Vacancy: Eastbourne College

    Teacher of Economics vacancy for September 2015 at Eastbourne College

    The College seeks to appoint an inspirational and energetic, full-time Teacher of Economics to start September 2015.

    The position would suit an NQT, an experienced teacher wanting to put his or her experience to use in a different context, someone returning to teaching, or a high calibre graduate without a formal teaching qualification but with the right skills and vision to inspire and motivate young people.

    The successful applicant will be able to teach both AS and A-level Economics to eager and enthusiastic pupils in the Sixth Form. The successful applicant will be expected to share their passion for Economics by offering enrichment opportunities to pupils outside the taught specification.

    The right person will have a marvellous opportunity to work in a stimulating environment, where resources, buildings, colleagues and pupils all strengthen the process of teaching and learning.

    There is the possibility to teach Business Studies and/or Politics alongside.

    To apply, please contact J Gilbert (jmg@eastbourne-college.co.uk) for a job application pack.

    Teaching A level Economics in the 1990s: Ideas for the new spec?

    In 1992 scissors were still a valuable tool [cutting edge?] to take newspaper articles from the broadsheets and Pritt Stick them onto a piece of clean A4. Some teachers wrote questions underneath these in biro, others saved them on floppy discs that fitted into the new generation of electric typewriters that were recommended on your PGCE course… Some lucky staff had computers that ran 'Exchequer' by David Atherton from Winstanley College- a programme that helped test your economics maths through topics such as exchange rates and the balance of payments.  There was even a board game based on the soon-to-be Euro Project...

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    Seeing as the sun does - sunscreen and information failure

    Monday, November 24, 2014

    Sometimes teaching economics puts us in a very privileged position to influence students lives in a positive way. After a discussion of the theory and a brilliant graphical analysis of merit and demerit goods, it is likely that I can overcome any information failure on the students behalf and see dramatic increases in the consumption of healthy foods and a swearing off drugs and excessive alcohol intake for life.

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    The Poo Bus

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    Apologies, but I can't resist the prospect of using this story about a new solution to the market failure of pollution: an eco-friendly bus which has just gone into service to transport people between Bath and Bristol Airport.

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    Vacancy: Head of Economics, Oundle School

    A fantastic opportunity for a current or aspiring Head of Department:

    Head of Economics, Oundle School

    A dynamic leader, manager and teacher is required for September 2015 to run a lively and highly successful department - Economics is flourishing at the School, with over 100 pupils studying the subject in the Sixth Form. Oundle School is currently the reigning National Champion of the Bank of England Target 2.0 Challenge, with academic results well above the school average - in 2014, 48% of economics pupils achieved an A* (A*/A: 73%). 

    The successful candidate will be a well-qualified graduate and an experienced teacher.
    The successful candidate will also be expected to contribute to the thriving extra-curricular life of the School.

    Accommodation may be available.

    An application pack and job description can be downloaded from our website www.oundleschool.org.uk/about/vacancies.
    Contact Mo Tanweer at MT@oundleschool.org.uk for more information.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 5 December 2014
    Interview date:Thursday 8 January 2015

    OECD calls for Indian structural economic reforms

    A new report from the OECD focuses on the supply-side (structural) reforms that economists from the OECD believe to be necessary to sustain economic growth and development in India. the report summary can be found here and will be useful students focusing on India as part of their contextual studies on development.

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    How well does my job pay?

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    The ONS published the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings today, which contains some very useful data. For the first time, they have produced an interactive tool to help explore some of the new figures. It graphically illustrates the occupations with the highest and lowest earnings, allows the user to see which occupations have similar salaries, and incorporates a couple of quick quizzes comparing. It would look good on a whiteboard as an introduction to Labour Markets and some of the issues around gender pay gaps, different pay rates for different occupations and elasticity of supply of labour.

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    Was the Rosetta comet landing mission worth the cost?

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    One of the jobs of an economist is to ask this question daily. What else might these resources have been spent on? This concept is known as opportunity cost.

    Perhaps the mission can be justified in cost/benefit terms. But maybe it shouldn’t have to.

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    Is Batman a good economist?

    We all know Batman, the superhero alter-ego of Bruce Wayne. Mr Wayne is the heir to a huge fortune which he uses in his quest to catch the crooks of Gotham City. But could Bruce use a few economics lessons? Is he making best use of resources? Might he achieve more if he put his resources into other uses?

    Ask yourself these questions:

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    Economic trade offs: Japanese fiscal policy transmits to GDP growth rate

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Japan has suffered years of persistent deflation, and needs expansionary policy to change that. But they also have the highest public debt of any of the developed countries, at just under 230%, and need contractionary policy to change that. How are they to manage such a difficult trade off?

    read more...»

    What’s the point of the G20?

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

    Just a quick post to share a great little video I just found on the Guardian website.  

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    Hay Levels

    A 3 min introduction to some key concepts, using Hay Levels

    Eliminating the deficit with tax rises

    I like an article with a fresh look at the problems we face and this piece poses some interesting questions/ 

    read more...»

    Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Economics and Oxbridge Extension

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    During our recent Economics departmental meeting, we discussed various websites we can't live without in regard to the teaching and learning of Economics. Some of our favourite ones are below. Enjoy...

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    Falling labour participation in the US: causes and effects

    The current recovery has been different in the United States. Though unemployment has fallen from 10% to 6.1%, labour-force participation has not increased. In fact, it has declined to its lowest level since 1978. This is controversial. Some economists say long-term structural factors, mainly aging, explain most of the recent drop in the labour force. Others argue that short-term, cyclical factors are mostly to blame: workers are sitting out the job hunt, waiting for better opportunities.

    What about the effects?

    read more...»

    In The Balance Podcast- Inflation and Deflation Discussion

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

    This is an excellent podcast to introduce year 12 students to the importance of controlling inflation and the perils of deflation. 

    read more...»

    Numbeo and economic data

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Numbeo is a new online database that helps make international comparisons in order to compare living standards.  It shows data by city and country on crime rates, pollution, health care, property prices and other key indicators.  Much like Wikipedia, data is entered by its various users in different cities around the world.

    It's worth a look as a useful resource when teaching the pros and cons of economic growth or the limitations of using national income accounts as a measure of living standards. It's also useful when looking at the barriers to economic development.

    read more...»

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