6.1.15

AS THE SCHOOLS REOPEN.

Don Boudreaux alerts his readers to a classroom activity that illustrates one of the fundamental ideas in economics, trading for mutual gain.  His protocol includes an opportunity for deeper analysis -- shall we say, political economy?
A really sophisticated twist at this point would be to have all the students, both before and after trading, publicly display their bundles.  If after trading the ‘poor’ students lower their subjective evaluations of their unchanged bundles of goods, then one conclusion might be that trading that makes some, but not everyone, materially better off might make the poorest worse off ‘emotionally’ by inciting in them a sense of envy of the better, or improving, fortunes of others.
That observation might be germane to Mark Twain's portrayal of the reaction of Tom Sawyer's buddies after Tom sells the right to paint the fence on Saturday in order to amass enough tickets to impress the elders and claim a Bible on Sunday.


There's a variant of the Trading Game that uses hypothetical endowments to get the activity going at Econ Ed Link.  The versions with actual endowments involve some cash outlay on the part of the teacher, but are likely to provoke more thinking by the students.

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