Economics (H): A Paper Focused On Pure Economics

LC Economics H Analysis 2023

Reaction to Leaving Certificate 2023 Economics (Higher Level) by Keith Hannigan, Economics teacher at The Institute of Education.

  • A paper that focused on pure economics concepts underlying topical issues.
  • This paper shows an approach to the syllabus that would really prepare students for the study of Economics at 3rd Level.

In striving to be topical, previous papers had bordered on general knowledge exams – this made the paper difficult to adequately research or prepare for, as core concepts were obscured by headlines. This paper, while still using relevant modern concerns, focused on the core economic principles at the heart of the world in which we live.

In general, students tend to prefer micro-economics to macro-economics and so most will be delighted with Section A’s collection of short response questions. Of the ten questions, seven required micro-economic knowledge to a greater or lesser degree. All the questions contextualized themselves with real issues: event ticketing, the price of petrol, utility costs, landlords leaving the property market, and the ECB increasing interest rates four times. Functionally these were only garnishes to the questions and students could cut straight to answering on the core concepts – it was obvious what was being asked and how best to approach an answer. This rewarded those the grasped the principal factors in responses to homelessness or attempts to control inflation.

Section B required more extended responses but continued the same trend of placing the principals to the fore. Question 11 had an interesting application of the HDI (Human Development Index), comparing Ireland and Congo. Brilliantly, Part C(ii) asked about inequalities within Ireland, getting students to understand that while things can be comparatively very good, there is still much that can be improved, and to apply economic principles in potential solutions. It took students from recognising ideas, to applying.

Question 12 was a nice question with a clever twist. The question discussed perfect competition with reference to the dairy industry, but then asked how the dairy industry is no longer an example of perfect competition. It was an interesting approach to the framing device. Question 13 was just pure economics, focusing on the competitiveness of exports. Question 14 was on full employment and was a nice continuity with the previous syllabus, both in terms of topic and question style.

Questions 15 and 16 dealt with the government’s response to the cost of living crisis. Inflation has been a key topic for everyone this year, and Question 15’s material would have paired well with what students covered in their projects. The core mechanics examined in that question could have been examined any year, but the use of the electricity credit and consumer behaviour made it current. Question 16 finished with a discussion of economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Students who love Economics will love this paper – if you grasp the core principles they were clearly on display, framed by but not buried in prevailing headlines.