The role of government is to provide for the common defense, define and protect property rights, and enforce contractual arrangements. Throughout the 20th and early 21st century, government has increased its role in economic life. The role of government has expanded to address so-called market failures and externalities by expanding their regulatory reach to address environmental concerns, monopolistic competition and provide public goods. Governments have also introduced various social programs to provide a social safety net for low-income individuals and senior citizens.
Advancements in transportation have played a key role in the growth of our nation. U.S. government policies have also had a considerable impact on the development of transport as we know it today. In this series of three lessons, the students examine transportation and its impact on our nation (and vice versa) since the United States declared its independence in 1776. Lesson 1 focuses on improvements in transportation during the 19th century, particularly the development of a national rail system, to show how invention, innovation and infrastructure encouraged western expansion and economic growth. Lesson 2 moves on to the 20th century focusing on the development of auto transport and aviation. The impact on communities and world trade, for both good and bad,is examined. Lesson 3 calls upon the students to create a class timeline of transportation milestones; the timeline will help the students more clearly understand the factors, especially the economic incentives, that have played a key role in what has been called the "Transportation Revolution." While these three lessons will ideally be used together as a set, teachers may choose to use one or two of them, selectively, to focus, for example, on the 19th or the 20th century. If you would like your students to study the economics of transportation in more depth, consider following up with the EconEdLink lesson,An Economic Mystery: What Happened to Railroads?
This lesson explores the differences between public and private goods.
The following lessons come from the Council for Economic Education's library of publications. Clicking the publication title or image will take you to the Council for Economic Education Store for more detailed information.
This publication helps students analyze energy and environment issues from an economics perspective.
4 out of 6 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
This publication helps elementary students analyze energy and environment issues from an economics perspective.
3 out of 10 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
Students use economic reasoning to investigate 15 environmental mysteries.
3 out of 15 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.