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Confusions in Textbooks

Some instructors have reported in the economics education literature that some important concepts are not always explained properly or that some confusions exist in textbooks.

Climate Change and Pollution

Jahangir (2022) noticed that principles of economics textbooks do a poor job of introducing students to climate change and recommends using a five-part approach to remedy this situation.

Milani (2023) also notices a lack of coverage of environmental economic questions with a macroeconomic perspective. She proposes a simplified "green" version of the Solow model to introduce environmental macroeconomics to undergraduate students.

Government’s Role

Eyzaguirre et al. (2019) describe typical shortcomings about the role of governments in principles textbooks.

Gross Domestic Product

Wolla (2018) describes the confusion that exists in the presentation of the gross domestic product (GDP) expenditures approach and, more specifically, in the interpretation of the net exports in the GDP.

Picault (2022) presents a method to help students understand the role of inventories in the GDP.

Invisible Hand

Dupont and Durham (2020) remind that the invisible hand must be placed in a historical context to make sense. They provide material to approach Adam Smith's invisible hand in the classroom, including experiments.

Minimum Wage

In most principles textbooks, the treatment of the minimum wage is limited to a perfectly competitive labour market. Unfortunately, it is very far from our current comprehension of how minimum wages affect the economy. Jahangir (2020) provides resources to extend the discussion to the inelastic demand for labor, the monopsony model, and the boom and bust cycles. The paper also provides illustrative empirical evidence. 

Monetary Policy, the FED, and the Financial System

In the last ten to twenty years, central banks, such as the federal reserve (Fed), have altered their approach to monetary policy. However, many economics textbooks have not updated how monetary policy is presented. Ihrig and Wolla (2022) and Ihrig et al. (2022) provide information about the policy tools the Fed is now using and discuss the changes in approach that the Fed made and the role of institutions in the financial system. 


Jones (2021) reviews how introductory economics textbooks discuss and define rationality. He finds that the treatment of rationality varies greatly between textbooks and suggests that some authors may be wrong in their approach. Jones (2021) indicates that the concept may not be necessary when teaching economics principles and that instructors should at least be careful when introducing rationality to students.

Substitution and Income Effects

Picault (2016) describes the confusion that exists in the presentation of substitution and income effects.

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