Real-world economics

Use AEA articles and podcasts to illustrate concepts in economics

The used car market is a useful example of the lemons problem, but after a while it can get old. There are additional ways of discussing asymmetric information that illustrate the concept while sparking conversation and grounding the idea in a real-world example.

The AEA's Research Highlights series can help, with short articles and podcasts that feature papers published in AEA journals, the authors' findings, and how they relate to the world around us. Many focus on a central concept and can supplement more traditional classroom readings. The Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP) is also a good resource for accessible material that relates to everyday economics.


Adverse selection
Asymmetric information
  • Giving Pakistani parents more information about their children’s schools changed the educational landscape | Research Highlights Article
  • What health choices do doctors make, and why are they different than most people’s medical decisions? | Research Highlights Article
Behavioral economics
  • There are many reasons why people ignore information, but they are hard for economists to empirically tell apart  | JEP Article
Comparative advantage
Deadweight loss
Discount rate
Federal Reserve
Financial crisis
Game theory
  • A history of game theory and where it might be headed | JEP Article
Human capital
Market failures
  • Consumers do not always buy energy-efficient products, even when they would save money  | Research Highlights Article
  • Market-based reforms from 1999 to 2012 significantly decreased the costs of producing electricity in the United States.  | Research Highlights Article
Market concentration
Moral hazard
Opportunity cost
Phillips Curve
Public good
Randomized controlled trial
Resource curse
Risk aversion
Social capital
  • Can household specialization explain the gender gap? | JEP Article
  • Specialization has made online crime more productive | JEP Article
State building
Supply and demand
  • Scandinavian countries have high taxes but maintain economic growth. How? | JEP Article
  • England’s 17th century window tax meant 150 years of deadweight loss | JEP Article
  • A tax spike on companies after layoffs is discouraging them from rehiring when business turns around. | Research Highlights Article
  • A threat paired with insights from behavioral economics can help ensure companies pay their taxes. | Research Highlights Article