The Grinch — Christmas Will Be 3 Times Bigger

The increasing commercialism of Christmas can be used to illustrate the concept of inflation. In The Grinch, one of the Whos shows the Grinch a new flyer that the mayor is anticipating that Christmas in Whoville will be three times bigger than last year! In a similar manner, inflation can devalue money and cause people to spend an increasing amount of money each year to keep up with the past. A specific set of Christmas decorations won’t be valuable as the previous year since everyone is expected to do things three times bigger this year.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas — Extreme Decorating

The increasing commercialism of Christmas can be used to illustrate the concept of inflation. In The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the Whos engage in a yearly competition to have the best Christmas light display. Each year the neighbors attempt to outdo each other with bigger and more extravagant displays. In a similar manner, inflation can devalue money and cause people to spend an increasing amount of money each year to keep up with the past. A specific length of Christmas lights isn’t as valuable the next year as it was the year before and neighbors will have to spend more and more to remain competitive.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — Not Enough Presents

Harry Potter’s spoiled cousin Dudley Dursley is upset that he received fewer presents for his birthday than last year. Instead of holding firm, Dudley’s parents decide to increase the number of presents to make up for Dudley’s disappointment. Similar to inflationary pressure seen across a broader economy, Dudley’s gifts seem to lose value over time and only an increasing number of gifts will satisfy him. There’s an expectation that each year Dudley will receive more gifts than the year before.

Thanks to Amanda Mandzik for this clip suggestion and summary!

Walt Disney — Santa’s Workshop

It’s the night before Christmas and the elves are hard at work producing toys for Santa to deliver on Christmas. The North Pole is an engaging illustration of an economy and a good foundation for reviewing nominal and real GDP. The elves in Santa’s workshop illustrated assembly-line efficiency and tangible outputs based on the number of toys produced. Elves produce a wide range of toys including rocking horses, building blocks, and dolls. The assembly line scene can be used as a reminder about the difference between intermediate goods (such as the doll’s clothing) and the final good (the entire doll) and which items are counted toward GDP.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples. The appendix includes hypothetical values for these products so that students can practice calculating real and nominal GDP.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — Island of Misfit Toys

The Island Of Misfit Toys contains a number of toys that have some sort of defect, like a polka-dotted elephant, a train with square wheels, and a Jack-in-the-Box named Charlie. The job of a toy is to entertain children, and until they can be matched with a child, they could be considered unemployed.

A lot of the toys seem to have given up hope for finding a match after being on the island for so long. As they anxiously await Christmas Eve it’s clear that some of the toys are on the brink of becoming discouraged workers. A discouraged worker is someone who has not actively looked for work in the past four weeks because they don’t believe there are any jobs available.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — Dentist Dreams

There are numerous characters in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) that experience some sort of job loss challenges. Hermey is an elf that doesn’t like making toys and would prefer to be a dentist. After talking with the head elf, Hermey proclaims “they can’t fire me, I quit” and leaves the toy shop. Despite being a skilled toymaker and possessing dental knowledge, Hermey is frictionally unemployed as he waits to transition to a new job.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

The Santa Clause — Technological Improvement

Even Santa and his sleigh can use some upgrades once the new technology has been developed. Technological improvements allow companies to produce more products using the same resources or to continue providing the same level of output more efficiently. Charlie and the elves help Santa improve his gift-giving efficiency by upgrading his suit and improving the features of his sleigh.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Christmas Vacation: Expected Future Earnings

Clark is hoping to get a big Christmas bonus, but his boss sends him a gift for a jelly subscription instead. Consumption is one of the components of aggregate demand, and future income can influence present consumption. Clark was planning to spend this income on a new swimming pool for the family and already spent some money on the deposit for the pool assuming he would get this bonus. He even notes that there isn’t enough money in the bank account to cover the check he wrote. His current consumption was based on an expectation of future income.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

History of the World — Unemployment Insurance

For someone to be considered unemployed, they must actively search for employment and not be currently employed. In this scene from Mel Brooks’ History of the World, the unemployment officer asks two key questions of citizens looking for their unemployment payment:

  1. Have you worked (killed) last week?
  2. Did you try to work (kill) last week?

She also warns that their unemployment is about to run out and that they need to make sure that they find work, which is similar to how many unemployment systems are setup.

Thanks to Alex Marsella for the clip submission!

Pizza Hut — Gorbachev’s Fault

It’s almost a decade after the Berlin Wall has fallen, and Russia is coming to grips with the introduction American “culture” in their country. As President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev was responsible for the dissolution of the USSR. The resulting economic transition was confusing for many, as the advertisement shows disagreement among family members about the state of Russia in the years following the end of Soviet rule.

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