Teaching Economics Using Taylor Swift Concerts. Are You Ready For It?

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With her Eras tour, Taylor Swift has been dominating the news this summer, including the $55 million in bonuses she gave to every member of the team that worked on the tour. But her impact on the people and the places involved with the concert experience extends way beyond that. From the resale prices, to the impact on local economies, to the role of Ticketmaster, we can learn a lot about economics from the pop icon and her tour.

Economists research topics like labor, trade, global markets, healthcare, inequalities, education, etc, but the core of economics - one that Swift's Eras Tour has helped to teach us is how should economies allocate scarce resources? 

Understanding economic principles doesn’t have to be thinking about “widgets”; rather, we can look at decisions in our everyday lives. In fact, Macmillan Learning author Paul Krugman (Economics from Krugman/Wells 6e) indicates that we can learn a lot from analyzing the headlines around an important piece of pop culture -- like the Eras Tour.

Knowing that Swift's tour provides such strong teachable moments in economics, Krugman created assignments for instructors to use this fall. The assignments are available beginning this August as an added benefit to all instructors using Macmillan Learning’s Achieve, but the team also wanted to make a few of them available for broader use. So … Are You Ready For It?

The cost of attending a Taylor Swift concert & the concept of opportunity cost

This assignment asks students to think about the true cost of attending a concert. Was it just the price you paid for a ticket? Let’s consider … In Chapter 1 of Economics from Krugman/Wells 6e, the concept of opportunity cost is introduced, which discusses both monetary and non-monetary costs. 

In this example, students are asked to consider what they gave up, relative to their next best alternative. This means the cost of buying tickets plus what they could have been doing during the time spent waiting in the virtual queue, including lost sleep, missed homework assignments, and missed school or work. 

What about the money spent buying the tickets? The concert outfit? The concert t-shirt? How about parking? And dinner before the concert with your Swiftie besties? Students may have given up the chance to sell them on the secondary market and just watched Netflix instead. Thinking about the costs of attending the concert -- what would students have if they made the decision to stay home instead. It should be no Trouble working that out.

All of these decisions are part of the costs of getting Taylor Swift tickets. So … here’s your Question …” -- was it worth it?

Start out your fall term by thinking about opportunity cost and the true cost of attending a Taylor Swift concert. Stay tuned next week for another Swiftie-nomics assignment!

Instructors can learn more about Economics from Krugman/Wells 6e and Macmillan Learning’s digital learning platform Achieve. The 7th edition of Krugman/Wells will be available later this fall. To learn more about it, find your rep!)