When Henry Ford announced he was going to produce an automobile that would be affordable to the masses, he probably did not realize what a great impact his achievement would have on life in the United States and, eventually, the world. Ford’s use of mass production strategies to manufacture the Model T revolutionized industrial manufacturing and initiated a new era in personal transportation. This three-part learning unit provides students with the story of Henry Ford and the Model T from an economics perspective. Parts 1 and 2 explore how the Ford Motor Company successfully introduced mass production strategies to the auto industry. Students learn how specialization and investments in capital (machines, people, etc.) increased productivity and allowed Ford to slash the price of his popular vehicle. Students chart a plan for the assembly-line production of bookmarks, test their plan, and make recommendations for improvements. Students also explore how Henry Ford used economic incentives to address a problem created by mass production techniques—worker turnover. An optional Part 3 explains how increased productivity resulted in shifts in the supply and demand for the Model T. Students analyze how a variety of non-price determinants continue to influence the automobile market today. The unit also presents a wealth of extension activities.
What determines a person's salary? Why do professional athletes make so much money? People who work as firefighters, police officers or teachers are clearly more important to our society, yet they make much less money than jocks. What explains this?
The students learn what GDP is. They will learn different measures of GDP as well as how GDP per capita can be used to compare countries. They will also calculate GDP per capita and learn how poorer countries can converge, or close the gap, with richer countries.
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