This lesson focuses on the March 28, 2013, third (final) estimate of U.S. real gross domestic product (real GDP) growth for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2012, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The current data and historical data are explained. The meaning of GDP and potential impacts of changes of GDP are explored. This lesson will also raise questions about the impact of the current level of growth on the U.S. economy and individuals.
Students engage in a simulation to explore how productivity influences the distribution of income and how government policy influences the redistribution of income. They calculate measures of central tendency for the entire class, their group’s percentage of total classroom income, and graph the Lorenz curve as a representation of the income distribution using an online graphing tool. Students simulate government policies to explore the impact on income distribution and income inequality. Students measure income inequality by interpreting the shape of the Lorenz curve, calculating the Gini coefficient by estimating the area under the Lorenz curve, and comparing the measures of central tendency. Students learn about the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) welfare program in the United States and apply what they have learned about the income distribution and income inequality to examine TANF’s effect.
Is the distribution of income in the United States becoming more unequal? Does the average American today have a higher or lower standard of living than the average American of a generation ago? Will the next generation have a higher or lower standard of living?
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