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  • Hafsa Jahan

What do high school students think about economics?

The following blog has been contributed by The Women in Economics Initiative (WiE) . The views expressed are opinion pieces from the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the organisation, its partners, other members, or any other affiliated people and organisations.

Questions from students in Bangladesh

Young people are showing a piqued curiosity in economics. Specifically, high schoolers in Bangladesh are increasingly interested in the field of economics, potentially given their STEM backgrounds or interest in the world as a whole. However, there are no substantial educational resources for these students.

That’s why we carried out a project targeting high schoolers from Bangladesh to let them ask us any questions regarding economics. There were ten questions collected ranging in topic from definitional questions such as “what is a monopoly?” to questions that top researchers today are trying to answer such as “why do women earn less than men?”. These questions were answered by one of our partners, Discover Economics, a campaign led by the Royal Economic Society that aims to broaden the appeal of economics to potential students.

For high school students in Bangladesh, there may be a scarcity of resources or the subject of economics may not be offered by schools. As a result, pupils may be less inclined to pursue economics in the future. Although, the number of students studying economics has an impact on societal economic literacy. While there is no single definition of economic literacy, it is defined as the ability to use economic skills and frameworks to explain or debate much of the world in which we live. Furthermore, since studying economics is typically the first step on the path to a career in economics, the diversity of the student body shapes the discipline. As a result, it is of our concern to be aware of high school students’ interests and questions in economics.

High schoolers in general think economics education is important but often struggle with basic economics concepts. It can be demonstrated by a survey of 1,000 teens aged 13 to 18 conducted by Junior Achievement USA and the Charles Koch Foundation. The study found that while 93 per cent of teens believe economics education is essential, they struggle with basic concepts such as “supply and demand.”

From reading the questions that the Bangladeshi high schoolers asked, we can understand that most of them are also about basic and fundamental ideas in economics. Students living in the rural areas of Bangladesh are less likely to have a basic understanding of economics than students from major cities because of a lack of resources and teachers. As a result, students from regional schools are more interested in learning about basic economic theories.

In addition to understanding the basic theories, today’s high school students are also curious about the employment opportunities that studying economics might provide. Most of them seemed to have hazy impressions. As a result, these Bangladeshi high school students voice their concern by asking questions about the subject’s value, as well as why women in the field of economics earn less than men and how this can be addressed. These students want to be able to succeed in the future, thus they’re showing interest in learning more about the potential of economics as a field. Here is what high schoolers asked:

Why do women earn less than men and what can we do about it? Many reasons contribute to the gender pay gap. The cultural bias, societal assumptions, and lack of progress in workplace design can be addressed by an educational change as well as the correct policy and regulations. It is not an easy or short path but it is something that must be a priority for the government and policymakers.

What is the difference between micro and macroeconomics? Microeconomics is focused on looking at the economic behaviour of individuals, and how they make decisions. Macroeconomics has a wider view by studying the economy as a whole. For example, in microeconomics, you will study consumer behaviour and game theory. On the other hand, in macroeconomics, you will study the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) convergence across countries, inflation shocks, and how central banks have addressed financial crises.

What is the importance of economics? Economics is important because it helps to understand how the world works; how a banknote has a monetary value or why prices go up and down depending on the country/world’s current situations. You should have heard about inflation; well, you will understand what it means and how it influences the economy!

How do we develop environmentally sustainable economic development to slow down the unfavourable warming of the Earth’s climate? Government and policymakers should implement effective policy measures to ensure sustainable economic development. Environmental economics is the field focused on studying this issue. For example, the Environmental Kuznets Curve highlights how GDP growth (economic development) and environmental degradation have an inverted u-shaped relation. In other words, at the start, economic development leads to a deterioration in the environment but after reaching a certain point (the turning point), society begins to improve its relationship with the environment, and levels of environmental degradation reduce.

What is globalisation? Globalisation is the process by which the world is becoming increasingly interconnected because of massively increased trade and cultural exchange.

What is the difference between Perfect Competition and Pure Competition? Under perfect competition, the factor of production is perfectly mobile whereas, in pure competition, the factor of production is immobile and cannot move from one industry to another. In perfect competition, the buyers and sellers have the best knowledge about the availability and the prevailing market conditions. Whereas in pure competition, the buyers and sellers do not have much knowledge about the market conditions.

Define monopoly. A monopoly is a situation where there is a single seller in the market for a given product. In other terms, you can only buy a product from one company.

Will cryptocurrencies have a significant place in the future of economics? Analysts estimate that the global cryptocurrency market will more than triple by 2030, hitting a valuation of nearly $5 billion. Whether they want to buy into it or not, investors, businesses, and brands can’t ignore the rising tide of crypto for long. Deutsche Bank made a very bold statement. The German bank published a research report called Imagine 2030. In this report, the bank says that cryptocurrencies are currently just additions to the current money payment system. However, in the next decade, they could be replacements. Deutsche Bank predicts that the number of cryptocurrency users will grow 4x in the next ten years, reaching 200 million. This growth is almost the same as that of the Internet in its first 20 years.

How does economics affect life as a student? Economics affects our daily lives. For example, when we make choices about what we are going to consume or save. If we go to the local grocery store and see how prices are rising because of an energy crisis or other current problems, we may adjust our spending habits.

What is the opportunity cost? Opportunity costs represent the potential benefits that an individual, investor, or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another.

Students who study economics in high school develop the required abilities to comprehend how global economic marketplaces operate. They develop analytical and problem-solving skills in the process, which will help them excel as students and as working professionals in the future. By reading these questions asked by the Bangladeshi high schoolers, we can understand that their curiosity comes from a belief that economics teaches students analytical abilities. Students of this generation are starting to understand that economics has extensive employment implications and long-term benefits.

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