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Economic Education’s Roller Coaster Ride In Hawaii, 1965-2006

During the early 1960s a few of Hawaii’s public high schools began to offer economics courses, and they gradually became popular social studies electives. By 1999, over 46% of public high school seniors completed a one-semester course in economics. From this peak, enrollment rates would plummet to just 11% in 2003, before rebounding to 27% in 2005 and 2007. Our analysis searches for an explanation by identifying large changes in key variables and public policies that determine demand for and supply of economic education in Hawaii’s schools. We conclude that changes in the incentives facing large Hawaii businesses, University of Hawaii faculty and administrators, and bureaucrats in the State of Hawaii Department of Education have reduced the supply of qualified teachers and student enrollment rates.

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