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Exploring Easter Island economics with Excel

Thomas R. Dalton, R. Morris Coats and R. Andrew Luccasen

International Review of Economics Education, 2015, vol. 18, issue C, 1-10

Abstract: Students learn more from doing than from viewing. By seeing and diagramming the relationships they have developed themselves, students learn more than by merely reading over what someone else has done. For the dynamic problems encountered in environmental and resource economics, Excel has a comparative advantage as a learning aid. We develop a simple, flexible Excel assignment to illustrate the Brander and Taylor (1998) model of the Easter Island economy. On Easter Island a crucial natural resource, the island's palm forest, was an open-access resource, leading to over harvesting and eventual societal collapse much like ordinary predator–prey models in biology. This paper guides instructors through an assignment using Excel to illustrate this dynamic. We also provide suggested extensions from the literature on Easter Island economics.

Keywords: Active learning; Pedagogy; Easter Island; Tragedy of the commons; Excel assignments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A20 Q27 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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