Between the Civil War and World War II, railroads were one of the nation's most important businesses and an integral part of people’s lives. In this lesson, students assume the role of detectives investigating why the rail companies experienced a crisis in the 1960s and what helped the freight transport portion of the business return to profitability later in the same century. Students analyze a set of clues that help them explore the impact of government policies and changes in consumer demand on rail service. They discover that government policies (e.g., regulations, subsidies, and taxes) can have both positive and negative consequences in the marketplace. An interactive activity helps students understand that rail service competes in two different markets—passenger service and hauling freight. Students also learn that railroads and government policies have had to adjust as the transportation industry changed in the second half of the twentieth century.
Hot debate and arguments galore whirl around this question: "Which economic approach is the most efficient and fair to resolve utility issues surrounding the use of common or public property?" This lesson will explore, examine and analyze this perplexing question by engaging in an open-ended role play simulation.
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?
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.
6 out of 10 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
This publication contains 20 lessons designed to provide an economic insight into topics typically covered in may civics and government classes.
6 out of 21 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.
Focus: Understanding Economics in U.S. History uses a unique mystery-solving approach to teach U.S. economic history to your high school students.
3 out of 40 lessons from this publication relate to this EconEdLink lesson.