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Concepts: Opportunity cost, scarcity, limited resources

Background: Yassin’s mother struggles to pay for his private highschool tuition. However, Yassin’s mother and stepfather are seen spending money on other goods and services such as a birthday cake, alcoholic beverages, a dinner at a restaurant, rent, and food.

Question: Resources are limited and scarce. Define the concept of “opportunity cost” using Yassin’s situation.

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Concepts: Income inequality, labor market, education, technological progress

Background: Jinn was shot in the cities of Petra and Amman. In this clip, we meet Hosny’s family, a Bedouin teenager who disappeared from the ancient city and is suspected to be possessed by a spirit. Hosny’s family lives in Petra, in a modest and traditional house. Fahed lives in Amman, the capital and largest Jordan city, in a modern villa with a pool.

Question: Compare the Bedouins’ living conditions with those of Amman’s high schoolers. Explain the societal issue of economic inequality and identify potential causes by comparing Hosny and Fahed’s lifestyles.

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Concepts: Technological progress, creative-destruction process

Background: The editor of the Conscience explains that readers prefer to read the news online rather that on a traditional newspaper. Information technologies (e.g., internet) have made this transition possible. Technological progress is an essential component of productivity and is usually considered positive for a country's economy.

Question: Discuss whether technological progress actually benefits everybody in society. Are there potential losers of technological progress?

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Concepts: Gains from trade, production possibilities, opportunity costs, comparative advantage, foreign direct investment, national spending approach, technology transfer

Background: In Queen Sono, we get hints of Africa's abundance of natural resources, such as the diamond mine in episode 1 and the mention of an oil rig in episode 3. The non-governmental organization Afrifeed also accuses the company Superior Solutions of planning to exploit Africa's natural resources. The heiress of the private arms company Superior Solutions concludes her speech by saying: "All these regions have the resources to support big businesses, to attract foreign direct investment. We all dream of an Africa that is at peace with itself, an Africa ready for a new and prosperous future."

Question 1: Research what commodities Sub-Saharan African countries mainly export. Then, using trade theories, explain how African countries can benefit from trade.

Question 2: Table 1 illustrates the advantages of the two countries, expressed in terms of how many hours it takes to produce each good. To simplify, let's say that each country has 100 worker hours.

  Copper (hours per thousand tonnes) Computer (hours per unit)
5 200
U.S. 8 80

 Table 1. Number of Hours to Produce One Unit

First, calculate the production possibilities before any trade. Second, calculate the opportunity costs and discuss which country has a comparative advantage in producing copper and computers.

Question 3: Discuss whether foreign direct investment can help increase the economic growth of Africa's poorer countries.

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Concepts: Wealth of nations, role of institutions

Background: While Africa is abundant in natural resources, several African countries are among the poorest countries in the world. The Netflix series depicts the corruption of some African leaders and the legacy of apartheid in South Africa.

Question (Let’s Use Data): Find the most recent GDP per capita for five Sub-Saharan African countries. Compare the data to those of some developed countries (e.g., United States, Sweden, United Kingdom, Canada). Discuss if institutions play a role in encouraging economic growth. To answer this question, you may use the GDP per capita values (current U.S. dollars) from the World Bank website:

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Concepts: Rent control, price ceiling, shortage

Background: Sacred Games was shot in Mumbai, and several scenes show different views of the city. For several decades after 1947, existing rents were frozen. In 1999, the Maharashtra Rent Control Act was passed, allowing landlords to increase rent by 4% per year. Rent remained extremely low compared to market value. Sacred games exposes some of Mumbai’s slums.

Question 1: Is rent control an example of a price ceiling or price floor? Explain the concepts. What are the unintended consequences of rent control that you may have noticed in Sacred Games? Are these similar to the ones predicted by economic theory?

Question 2: Use the supply and demand analysis to explain how rent control led to a shortage of dwelling units, which in turn resulted in the growing number of slums. Research population growth in Mumbai and discuss its impact on the shortage issue[1].

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Concepts: Technological progress, innovation, creative-destruction process, CPI, consumer needs

Background: Stranger Things is set in the 1980s, when walkie-talkies, phone booths, portable media players such as the Walkman and boomboxes were widely popular.

Question 1: Think of the items you use to call your friends and listen to music. What changed since the 80s, and how does it affect our daily life?

Question 2: What else do you do with your smartphones? What would you have to buy to replace your smartphones if smartphones were not available anymore? Altogether, would it be more or less expensive than a smartphone? What is the impact of the introduction of new goods, such as smartphones, on the CPI?