choose a topic from the topic list


The goal of this writing assignment is to expand upon the discussion materials and topics offered throughout the first three weeks of the class. This assignment is worth 100 points detailed below.

In these assignments, you should practice finding and using external sources to justify your arguments. I am always happy to help you find sources.

Topic List

Scarcity of N95 Masks What explains why some goods are scarce? Throughout 2020 and into 2021 there has been a documented scarcity of N95 surgical masks available to doctors and medical professionals (also to the general public). Economically, how can we explain this?

Scarcity and Consumer Behavior? Pokemon Cards What explains variations in pricing of individual goods and services. While some people do not like or value pokemon cards, others like rapper Logic, have paid startling prices in the past year.

Price Changes 1997- In the past 20-30 years some goods have become relatively more affordable, while others have become relatively more expensive. Pick one good and explain in an economic context why that good has become relatively more/less expensive in recent years.

OECD Better Life Index Compare and contrast two countries of your choice using the OECD Better Life Index. Economically, how can we explain differences in standards of living between countries?

Declining Labor Force Participation Labor force participation rate in the United States has been relatively lower than in other ‘developed’ countries over the past couple decades. What can explain the economic decision to work or not to work? Why would this decision vary by country or perhaps by culture?

How well does GDP measure well-being? In class, we introduced GDP as a measure of overall production in the economy. To what extent does production measure well-being over time? What elements of standards of living are not accounted for by GDP calculation?

Federal Reserve Monetary Policy Goals Keynesian/Neoclassical analysis holds that governments can moderate inflation and unemployment in economies by changing government spending to influence Consumption and Investment. In contrast, Monetarists argue that it is better for the Fed to control inflation via interest rates. What is your opinion on government intervention? To what extent should it happen, and when it does, how should governments intervene in markets?

Federal Debt Looking at Federal Debt to GDP ratio over time, what does this statistic tell us about economic health and standards of living in the US? What explains the spike in recent years and is that trend concerning, or not?

America’s Fiscal Future? Some talk around politics surrounds budgeting and budget balance. According to leading budget experts what would have to happen for the US to balance it’s budget? Do you think this is realistic or not?

Tax Rates Worldwide Compare and contrast two countries of your choice by tax rates. What can tax rates tell us about an economy?

Prison Data Toolbox Use data provided by the PrisonPolicy toolbox to discuss your views of how the US justice system should look into the future.

Policing Policy What does “Defund the Police” mean? The Department of Justice issued a report on innovative policing strategies. Compare/Contrast the DOJ’s vision of the future of policing to the vision represented in the slogan.


Introduction (20 points): Should not exceed about half a page. Clearly state your thesis. The most important aspect of an effective introduction is to concisely state what you are talking about. Make sure you are foreshadowing the main points in your body paragraph. It is often helpful to write this section after the body.

Body (60 points):

Explanation of Concept (20 points): Clearly explain your topic. The grade for this section will not be based on external citations, but rather how clearly you are able to state and defend a thesis in the paper.

Main Body (40 points): Defend your position or argument using external sources. The grade for this section is primarily determined by how you use sources to defend your key arguments.

Conclusion (20 points): Should not exceed about half a page. Restate your thesis, main conclusion, and the most important pieces of information to your argument.

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