Textbook Chapters on Economics of Social Issues

Name of Award

APDC Faculty Research & Scholarly Activities Grant

Date Awarded

Summer 6-1-2016



Project Description

Caroline Krafft, PhD, Assistant Professor of Economics, received a $4,000.00 grant to develop textbook chapters. The goal of the project is to produce three chapters exploring and teaching economics of social issues from a diverse and gender-sensitive perspective. I was motivated to undertake this project given the absence of social perspectives, particularly ones that incorporate any substantial discussion of gender or race, in introductory economics textbooks. Standard economics textbooks neglect social issues almost entirely as well as any gender, socio-economic, racial, or ethnic dimensions of economic analysis. Students learn best when passionate about their material and able to see clear applications of the concepts to their lives and values. While standard introductory economics textbooks teach core concepts like supply and demand with examples about ice cream or pizza, these same concepts can be tied in to current social issues and be much more powerful. For instance, supply and demand can be taught using the example of girls’ education in Yemen or the supply and demand for housing during the current refugee crisis in Jordan.

Despite the obvious importance of this topic and its broad appeal, there are not textbooks available that effectively address these social policy issues through an economic lens at an introductory level. Our current textbook, Economics of Social Issues, while it technically has topical coverage of these issues, does not incorporate the most up to date research on a variety of topics. It also does a remarkably poor job in dealing with issues of gender and diversity. For instance, the only intimation of racial disparities in the entire “Economics of Crime” chapter is the implied ethnicity of the hands behind jail bars in the chapter’s cover photo. There are eight mentions of the word “gender” in the entire book, all but two in the chapter on discrimination. Even Economics of Social Issues has examples about pizza in the chapter on pollution—students would truly benefit from a book that integrates social issues from the start.

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