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Grade 9-12

The Economics of Income: The Rich Nations Mystery

Time: 60 mins,
Updated: May 1 2019,


Students will be able to:

  • Understand the relative importance of GDP and per capita GDP.
  • Evaluate the connection between human capital and economic growth.
  • Examine factors that contribute to human capital.

In this economics lessons, students will examine why some nations are economic successes and some countries struggle.



Open PowerPoint Slides and show on a projector screen. Show slide 2. Students will take part in a Kahoot! game covering the economic vocabulary of the lesson. Open the link and show this on a projector screen. Play the Kahoot! Game with your class. Divide the students into teams or play using 1-1 devices. This quiz covers the economic vocabulary terms of the lesson to assess for prior knowledge.


Show slide 3 and review the terms with students. Use the speaking notes in the slide deck for talking points.

Group Activity

Show slides 4-13. Note: Slides 8-15 are showing the answers for the group activity. Use the speaking notes in the slide deck for talking points and instructions. Explain that students will take part in a Country Comparison activity designed to examine the factors related to economic growth and their connection to a country’s standard of living. The set-up for the activity is as follows:

It has just been announced that all the students in your school are going to be offered the chance to participate in an international exchange program to one of six countries. Your family will travel with you and all of you will have to live, work, and study in your chosen country for a period of two years. You will be given the chance to do some research about your potential destination.  Each group will be assigned one of six possible countries and will use a set of resources to try and find specific information about each country.

Instructions follow on Slide 5. Further clarifications and resources are included in the Teacher Guide: Rich Nations Mystery document. The statistics for each country are also included in the PowerPoint Slides for reference. Break the class into six groups and assign each group a country to research. Distribute copies of the Rich Nations Mystery handout. Ask each group to fill out the activity sheet as instructed on Slide 5.

Individual Activity

Show slide 16. Note: Slide 17 shows the answers to the Guess How Much and How worksheet. Distribute a copy of Guess How Much and How to each student. Students will try and match salaries from different professions while also estimating the amount of education necessary for these professions. Emphasize the connection between the concept of human capital to economic gains. Use the Guess How Much and How Answer Key to review the correct matches.


Hand each student a copy of the Exit Ticket. Project slide 18 and have each student answer individually. Students are required to submit their answers before the end of the class.


Activity 1

GapMinder Activity. Distribute copies of the GapMinder Graph. This graph illustrates a powerful link between per-capita GDP and life expectancy.  There is an upward sloping trend line that equates low per-capita GDP with limited life expectancy and vice-versa.  The previous activity should have linked capital development with increased per-capita GDP, and higher per-capita GDP with increased standards of living. This graph provides data points to support those conclusions. Distribute copies of the GapMinder Activity.