The central problem of Economics, the allocation of scarce resources, is relevant to both the developed and the underdeveloped world. In the IB much emphasis is placed on the issue of development in the belief that the study of Economics is part of the solution to this problem. Among the challenges common to all societies is the search for acceptable levels of economic wellbeing.
Individuals, firms and governments must constantly make choices about the allocation of scarce resources. How are such choices made and on what basis are their consequences to be analysed? The questions of ‘What?’, ‘How’, and ‘For whom?’ are central to the field of Economics. The first two questions are closely linked to the problems of sustainable development, the environment and the impact of technology; the third, to the issue of income distribution at all levels.
The aims of the Economics programme are to develop in the candidate:
- Disciplined skills of economic reasoning.
- An ability to apply the tools of economic analysis to past and contemporary situations and data, and to explain the findings clearly.
- An understanding of how individuals, organisations, societies and regions organise themselves in the pursuit of economic objectives
- An ability to evaluate economic theories, concepts, situations and data in a rational and unbiased way.
- International perspectives which feature a respect for and understanding of the interdependence and diversity of economic realities in which individuals, organisations and societies function.
The course provides pupils with the precise knowledge of the basic tools of economic reasoning, offering an understanding of contemporary economic problems while encouraging pupils to employ economic analysis in different contexts. It is sometimes necessary to examine in detail certain relatively complicated theories.
All students follow a common core but Higher Level students are required to learn additional material to provide them with more in-depth knowledge.
The syllabus is divided into four sections:
- International Economics
- Development Economics
All students are assessed on the various sections in two written exams and Higher Level students then sit a third paper to cover their material, which has a greater emphasis on quantitative elements.
As part of their Internal Assessment, candidates produce a portfolio of three commentaries where they need to provide commentaries discussing economic theory according to newspaper articles. Commentaries are written at the conclusion of a section of theory, so is spread out during the two years.