7 1/2 Cents (The Pajama Game)

The singers discuss the many things they could do by earning 7 ½ cents an hour, a wage that is about 1/100th of the current US minimum wage. A great song to introduce a discussion of labor economics and specifically low-wage jobs and the minimum wage. This song also would be a good introduction to […]

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Life Story (Closer Than Ever)

The singer discusses her life story in this song, starting with her “liberated marriage”. Many economic concepts are covered here, including: * college tuition costs * the loss of human capital (since you work less because of children) * that higher wages are earned by those with college degrees, particularly MBAs * the economic costs […]

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Bilbao Song (Happy End)

The singers are singing about Bilbao, an old hangout for the crowd that has gathered. They remember the good times they used to have at a low cost, lamenting the higher costs that they must pay now that their favorite establishment is more respectable. The singers also lament that their hangout has become too “bourgeois”. […]

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Wells Fargo Wagon (The Music Man)

The Iowa town is excited when the Wells Fargo wagon comes to town. Why shouldn’t they be? It’s 1912 and the Wells Fargo Wagon was an efficient way to get products back then. This song provides a nice introduction into a lesson in economic history. From catalogs and wagon delivery systems, to big (and not-so-big) […]

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Piragua Reprise (In the Heights)

There is a blackout “In the Heights” during the hottest week of the year, and the seller of Piragua, a shaved ice drink, is happy. Why? Two reasons: first, the high heat means that the demand for Piragua will be higher. Second, the singer finds out his main competition has also closed down. Both of […]

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Everybody Say Yeah (Kinky Boots)

Faced with the prospect that the family shoe company might go bankrupt, the firm decides to innovate to differentiate themselves from the competition. This song would provide a good introduction to a discussion on entrepreneurship. It also could serve as a good introduction to markets, such as monopolistic competition and oligopoly where differentiating products can […]

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Bruce (Matilda)

The principle (Miss Trunchbull) discovers that Bruce stole a piece of cake. As punishment, this (sadistic) principal wants Bruce to eat an entire cake. This song illustrates the concepts of diminishing marginal utility. The first piece of cake can be tasty – often worth a lot to people who enjoy cake. A second piece is […]

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And the Money Kept Rolling In (Evita)

Eva Peron is loved – in part because of the money she’s giving away. Those who obtain the money she’s giving love Eva Peron – even though it isn’t actually Peron’s money. The money was obtained from taxing others. The themes of this song are relevant today. Is somebody compassionate when they tax some individuals […]

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You Gotta Get A Gimmick (Gypsy)

The ladies are singing about how to be a better stripper. While entertaining and funny, this song is a a good illustration of a couple economics concepts. First, this song illustrates the returns to human capital, as the ladies all invested time and energy to “get a gimmick” in order to receive higher wages. Because […]

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How the Money Changes Hands (Tenderloin)

In this song, the singer sings how money cycles through the economy from the landlord to the farmer to the grocer to the banker. This is a good example of why there is what economists call the “multiplier effect”. When one person gets extra money, not only is their life improved, but their extra spending […]

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