Teaching Economics through Cinema

| Peter Klein |

I wrote something a while back on the entrepreneur in film. Here’s a working paper on the use of cinema in economics education more generally. Gherardo Girardi experiments with movies in the clasroom and reports the results, summarized by this (perhaps unintentionally) droll remark: “The results from the student surveys show that the students strongly wish to see the proposed module introduced.” No kidding.

Girardi’s recommendions include some surprises along with familiar items:

  1. Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller, 1949, US) – Choice of profession, sense of self worth based on economic performance;
  2. Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck, 1939, US) – Property rights, migration, trade unions;
  3. Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens, 1838, UK) – Economics of crime, economics of charities;
  4. Rogue Trader (James Dearden, 1999, US) / Wall Street (Oliver Stone, 1987, US; C) – Psychology of financial markets, business ethics;
  5. Balkanizateur (Sotiris Goritsas, 1998, Greece; C) – Efficiency of capital markets;
  6. La Terra Trema (Luchino Visconti, 1948, Italy) – Poverty and the risks of entrepreneurship;
  7. St. Francis (Michele Soavi, 2002, Italy) / Francis, God’s Jester (Rossellini, 1950, Italy) – Choice between wealth and poverty
  8. Mother India (Mehboob Khan, 1957, India; C) – Rural financial markets in poor countries;
  9. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austin, 1813, UK) – Dowries, economics of inheritance;
  10. Ashani Sanket (a.k.a. Distant Thunder, Satyajit Ray, 1973, India) – Economics of famines;
  11. Robin Hood (author unknown, 1973 Walt Disney production recommended) – Morality of stealing from the rich/the state



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