A High School Economics Guide

Supplementary resources for high school students

Definitions and Basics

Technology, at Dictionary.com


  • 1. the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science.
  • 2. the terminology of an art, science, etc.; technical nomenclature.
  • 3. a technological process, invention, method, or the like.
  • 4. the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization.

Industrial Revolution and the Standard of Living, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Between 1760 and 1860, technological progress, education, and an increasing capital stock transformed England into the workshop of the world. The industrial revolution, as the transformation came to be called, caused a sustained rise in real income per person in England and, as its effects spread, the rest of the Western world. Historians agree that the industrial revolution was one of the most important events in history, marking the rapid transition to the modern age, but they disagree vehemently about various aspects of the event. Of all the disagreements, the oldest one is over how the industrial revolution affected ordinary people, usually called the working classes. One group, the pessimists, argues that the living standards of ordinary people fell. Another group, the optimists, believes that living standards rose….

In the News and Examples

Tim Harford on Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy, EconTalk podcast episode, November 2017

Financial Times columnist and author Tim Harford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Harford’s latest book, Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy. Highlights include how elevators are an important form of mass transit, why washing machines didn’t save quite as much time as you’d think, and the glorious illuminating aspects of light throughout history.

Michael Munger on Sharing, Transaction Costs, and Tomorrow 3.0, EconTalk podcast episode, October 2018

Economist and author Michael Munger of Duke University talks about his book, Tomorrow 3.0, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Munger analyzes the rise of companies like Uber and AirBnB as an example of how technology lowers transactions costs. Users and providers can find each other more easily through their smartphones, increasing opportunity. Munger expects these costs to fall elsewhere and predicts an expansion of the sharing economy to a wide array of items in our daily lives.

Arnold Kling on Education and the Internet, EconTalk podcast episode, October 2012

Arnold Kling, economist and teacher, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about recent technological innovations in education and Kling’s forecast for their impact on learning and how they might affect traditional education. Examples include the recent explosion of online lessons and classes, new teaching styles that exploit those offerings, and the nature of learning in various kinds of classrooms and student-teacher interactions.

Kevin Kelly on the Future of the Web and Everything Else, EconTalk podcast episode, March 2007

Author Kevin Kelly talks about the role of technology in our lives, the future of the web, how to time travel, the wisdom of the hive, the economics of reputation, the convergence of the biological and the mechanical, and his impact on the movies The Matrix and Minority Report.

Consuming Spam Mail, by Declan McCullagh on Econlib, February 12, 2001

Paper junk mail has to have postage…. Not so with email…. From an economic perspective, spam is just another form of pollution, an activity that imposes costs on people without their permission….

Telecommunications, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

It would be difficult to overstate the significance of telecommunications in today’s economy and virtually impossible to overstate its likely importance in the future. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, telecommunications has become the central nervous system of the economy. Just as the railroads once promoted economic growth and development, telecommunications is now globalizing markets, reducing transactions costs, expanding productivity, and directly increasing economic well-being….

Research and Development, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Research and development (R&D) is the creation of knowledge to be used in products or processes….

Internet, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

The Internet’s main function is to reduce the cost of transmitting information, and that is really all it does. Since the Internet only moves electrical pulses from one location to another, it is capable only of transmitting products that can be digitized—and that comes down to various forms of information (including digitized entertainment).

A Little History: Primary Sources and References

Timothy Brook on Vermeer’s Hat and the Dawn of Global Trade, EconTalk podcast episode, February 2008

Timothy Brook, professor of history at the University of British Columbia and author of Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the expansion of global trade between Europe and the rest of the world, and in particular, North American and China. He discusses the differences and similarities between Chinese and Western attitudes toward trade and exploration and the implications for innovation and knowledge.

Advanced Resources

Change and Progress with Uncertainty Absent, by Frank Knight. Part II, Chapter 5 from Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit

We turn now to the third grand division of theoretical economics, the study of the use of resources in the increase of resources for the making of goods and in the refinement of wants alongside of and alternative to their direct use in making goods for consumption….

Creative Destruction, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950) coined the seemingly paradoxical term “creative destruction,” and generations of economists have adopted it as a shorthand description of the free market’s messy way of delivering progress. In Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942), the Austrian economist wrote:

    The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation—if I may use that biological term—that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. (p. 83)

Related Topics

Productive Resources