First Education Post; Today's Crossword  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in , ,

The New York Times reports today that high schoolers did reasonably well on a government-mandated economics exam.

I think econ is a very important high school class. It was required in the Des Moines district, although my teacher was perhaps not so great. (I recall learning as much from Sam as old Westy..)

One point of contention for me with the exam, is that one of the reported questions was (and I'm paraphrasing):
"If the wages for babysitting go up, how will teenagers respond?"

The desired, and graded "correct", answer was that teenagers would spend more time babysitting and less time on other activities, all else equal.

Two points to raise about this: one is the Income Effect. If teenagers feel that they need, for example, $50 a week spending money, won't they cut back on the number of hours spent babysitting once they've reached $50? That is, where it used to take 10 hours at $5/hour, now it takes 5 hours at $10 per. My guess is that most would spend seven or eight hours (if they had a choice, obviously): they make more money than their requirement, and spend less time doing a "chore". The second factor to consider would be that more parents might take their time off the market; that is, if wages rise enough such that parents would rather rent a movie and watch their own child, the hours available for teenagers to babysit will be reduced.

And that's how an equilibrium is reached, kiddies.

Seriously, I think this shows how difficult it is to teach and learn even basic economics. You might try to show your point with what you consider a banal example, but counterexamples abound even in the simplest of real world situations.

And now for something completely different:

Crossword madness this morning, as I started I think 5 puzzles. Today's Times was irritating me so I took a break to work on one of the supplemental August "bonus" puzzles. The theme was Dog Days, perfect for a hot Phoenix morning.

I loved the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest questions, interestingly both this puzzle and today's Times has gentleman named Chestnut[t] as clues: Contest winner Joey here, and songwriter Vic in the Wednesday.

I began work on a diagram-less puzzle this morning, in addition to one written by Lee Iacocca. If I finish them, I'll post 'em.


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