Education & Family

Global crash to be included in new economics A-level

Student writing Image copyright Chris Radburn
Image caption The global banking crisis of 2007-08 will be included in a new economics A-level

Students will learn about the global financial crisis in a new economics A-level to be taught from September.

The course, from Pearson's Edexcel exam board, will cover factors leading up to the banking crash of 2007-08.

It will also ask pupils to compare the crash and the way governments handled it, with the Great Depression of 1930s.

"It is vitally important that our A-levels reflect the realities of an ever changing world," said Mark Anderson, Pearson's UK managing director.

"We know that students and teachers are eager to study the biggest financial crisis to take place in our lifetimes, and it is so important that tomorrow's business leaders understand and debate these key economic events."

Pearson says its new A-level economics will ask students to consider the factors that contributed to the crisis "including moral hazard, speculation and market bubbles".

They will also look at the role of banking regulation and the methods governments adopted to deal with the crisis.

These include "quantitative easing" - when central banks print or create money electronically and use it to buy bonds from banks or pension funds to increase the amount of cash in the financial system, boosting lending to businesses and individuals.

The theory is this should allow them to invest and spend more, hopefully increasing growth.

Arguably government efforts to manipulate the money supply and interest rates in the recent recession helped avoid the crisis becoming a 1930s style depression.

Students will also for the first time study the use of "national wellbeing" and "national happiness" as economic measures.

They will also look at the limitations of these and more traditional economic measures in comparing living standards between countries and over time.

The syllabus will also include the study of economic theorists such as Karl Marx, John Keynes, Friedrich Hayek and Adam Smith, as well as a section on new theories in behavioural economics and the ways in which psychological, emotional and social factors contribute to people's economic decisions.

Students will also study emerging and developing economies and consider economic theories and concepts in different contexts.

Exam boards OCR and AQA have also redeveloped their economics A-levels in response to new government specifications for the subject.

These require students to develop an "appreciation of economic concepts and theories in a range of contexts and develop a critical consideration of their value and limitations" in explaining real-world events.

AQA qualifications manager Sam Livesey said his board's A-level economics course, developed with help from the Bank of England, would include the 2008 credit crunch "as a real-life example to teach students how the financial system operates and give them real-world knowledge of economics.

"The topic will give students an understanding of how financial crises occur and what measures can be put in place to avoid them," said Ms Livesey.

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