Education About Asia: Online Archives

Using India and China to Interest American Students in Economics

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The rapid growth of the Indian and Chinese economies in the past thirty years is a boon for any teacher of the social sciences because they are a source of engaging stories that illustrate important economics concepts. The economic events in the two countries that have led millions of people to escape heart-wrenching poverty have a strong human interest element, and the stories surrounding the events have much appeal to today’s high school and college students who tend to have more global consciousness than those in the past. Several of the stories are real-life illustrations of important economic concepts, such as the tragedy of the commons and the role of market prices in the efficient allocation of resources. Our goal is to suggest instances, based on our experience, of how stories drawn from the larger narrative of Indian and Chinese growth can be used by economics, history, or government teachers to meet some of the biggest challenges they face—engaging students, making the material stick, and tackling the 800-pound, silent gorilla: “Why do I need to know this?”

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