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Economic Education’s Roller Coaster Ride In Hawaii, 1956-2006


  • Kimberly Burnett

    () (University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization)

  • Sumner La Croix

    () (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)


During the early 1960s a few of Hawaii’s public high schools began to offer economics courses, and they gradually became popular social studies electives. By 1999, over 46% of public high school seniors completed a one-semester course in economics. From this peak, enrollment rates would plummet to just 11% in 2003, before rebounding to 27% in 2005 and 2007. Our analysis searches for an explanation by identifying large changes in key variables and public policies that determine demand for and supply of economic education in Hawaii’s schools. We conclude that changes in the incentives facing large Hawaii businesses, University of Hawaii faculty and administrators, and bureaucrats in the State of Hawaii Department of Education have reduced the supply of qualified teachers and student enrollment rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Kimberly Burnett & Sumner La Croix, 2009. "Economic Education’s Roller Coaster Ride In Hawaii, 1956-2006," Working Papers 200901, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:200901

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Siegfried, John J & Fels, Rendigs, 1979. "Research on Teaching College Economics: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 923-969, September.
    2. William B. Walstad, 2001. "Economic Education in U.S. High Schools," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 195-210, Summer.
    3. William B. Walstad & Ken Rebeck, 2001. "Assessing the Economic Understanding of U.S. High School Students," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 452-457, May.
    4. Walstad, William B, 1992. "Economics Instruction in High Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 2019-2051, December.
    5. Belfield, Clive R. & Levin, Henry M., 2004. "Should high school economics courses be compulsory?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 351-360, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kimberly Burnett & Sumner La Croix, 2010. "The Dog ATE my Economics Homework! Estimates of the Average Effect of Treating Hawaii’s Public High School Students with Economics," Working Papers 2010-01, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

    More about this item


    economic education; Hawaii; enrollment; network externality;

    JEL classification:

    • A21 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Pre-college
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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