The Economics for Life Value Proposition

Concern for the vast majority of “one and done” principles students precipitated the “economic literacy” approach. This approach, underlying Micro/Macro Economics for Life, argues that it is far more valuable for students to learn and be able to apply core economic concepts well, than to be exposed to a wide range of concepts they will not master and therefore will soon forget. This approach equips students with the content and skills they need to make sense of, and succeed in, their world. Moreover, multiple studies show that students in economic literacy principles courses do just as well in intermediate theory as students taking traditional principles courses for majors. It is a different approach than traditional principle courses, not less rigorous.

Economics for Life uses the lens of “What should go in the only economics course students will ever take?” to reframe principles of economics as principles of smart choices. The resulting guidebook to smart choices equips students with a mental framework to make smart choices as consumers, business people, investors and engaged citizens.

Microeconomics for Life is organized around a unique 3 Keys Model for smart choices, a concise, intuitive framework that applies to all of Microeconomics. Because economists (and politicians) disagree far more about Macroeconomics, Macroeconomics for Life is organized around the “Fundamental Macroeconomic Question” of how quickly markets adjust, and whether government should play a Hands-Off or Hands-On role. In constructing a framework for understanding Macroeconomics, we sympathetically present economists’ two major positions, equipping students to make their own choices about what kind of economic policies to support as citizens.

Economics for Life applies the discipline of thinking like an economist to real-world issues to build essential critical thinking skills. More emphasis on applying core theoretical concepts, and less emphasis on mathematical techniques, can enhance understanding without sacrificing rigor. You will never see an equation or abstract graph in The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, or The New York Times, yet these publications present sophisticated economic analysis. The rigor comes from learning to analyze events like an economist, using assumptions, models, and data to emulate the practice of controlled experiments.

Theory is a disciplined way of thinking that can take many forms. Economics for Life takes a narrative approach to models – emphasizing the story the graph or model tells to establish an emotional connection with the material. Ariel Rubinstein (2012, 16), the famous game theorist, says “Economic theory spins tales and calls them models.” Once students master the intuitive reasons for specific economic decisions, instructors can choose to introduce more technical models that students will then more easily grasp.