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Let’s apply what we learned to the current COVID-19 crisis. How are the three types of incentives used to encourage the development of a vaccine or treatment (see below for background reading)?  

#1 Patents

Who is responding to the incentives created by patents to develop a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19? Name one example. What type of incentive(s) does a patent create? (HINT: what is the benefit of owning a patent?) 

What are the pros and cons of using patents to find a COVID-19 vaccine?

Discussion Questions 
(with teacher or parent)

More Learning

Economics of Ideas

#2 Subsidies

How are subsidies being used to find a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19? Can you find an example of a specific subsidy? 

What are the pros and cons of using subsidies to find a vaccine? 

#3 Prizes

Name at least one example of a prize being offered (or planned to be offered) to find a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Who might be incentivized by a prize that would not be by a patent or a subsidy? Why? 

What are the pros and cons of using prizes to find a COVID-19 vaccine?

Instructions

1. Watch the video above. 

2. Let’s apply what we learned to the current COVID-19 crisis. How are the three types of incentives used to encourage the development of a vaccine or treatment? 

Discussion Questions


This assignment 
is available as a Google Doc. 

Teachers:  See the curriculum

Globalization, Robots, and YouThe Hockey Stick of Human ProsperityGame of Theories: Business CyclesWhy Are Some Countries Rich and Others Poor?

In this TED talk, Alex Tabarrok explains how the supply and demand of ideas affects us all.  

Alex Tabarrok summarizes the reasons why prizes are an important tool to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading... 

Teachers:

The Economics of Ideas: COVID-19 Vaccine?  

During a pandemic, we need new treatments — and fast. Economists often say, “incentives matter”, and that’s true, even in a pandemic. 

A vaccine or treatment is, fundamentally, an idea

However, as you’ll see, ideas are a bit tricky to incentivize. Watch the video below to learn about three different ways we can encourage the development of new ideas: patents, prizes, and subsidies. 

Let’s apply what we learned to the current COVID-19 crisis. How are the three types of incentives used to encourage the development of a vaccine or treatment (see below for background reading)?  

#1 Patents

How are patents being used to find a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19? 

What are the pros and cons of using patents to find a vaccine?

#2 Subsidies

How are subsidies being used to find a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19? Can you find an example of a specific subsidy? 

What are the pros and cons of using subsidies to find a vaccine? 

Discussion Questions (with parent or teacher)

More Learning

Economics of Ideas

#3 Prizes

Name at least one example of a prize being offered (or planned to be offered) to find a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Who might be incentivized by a prize that would not be by a patent or a subsidy? Why? 

What are the pros and cons of using prizes to find a COVID-19 vaccine?  

Instructions

1. Watch the video above.

2. Let’s apply what we learned to the current COVID-19 crisis. How are the three types of incentives used to encourage the development of a vaccine or treatment? 

#2 Subsidies

How are subsidies being used to find a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19? Can you find an example of a specific subsidy? 

What are the pros and cons of using subsidies to find a vaccine? 

Discussion Questions

This assignment is available as a Google Doc

Globalization, Robots, and YouThe Hockey Stick of Human ProsperityGame of Theories: Business Cycles

Discussion Questions (with teacher or parent)

#1 Patents

Who is responding to the incentives created by patents to develop a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19? Name one example. What type of incentive(s) does a patent create? (HINT: what is the benefit of owning a patent?) 

What are the pros and cons of using patents to find a COVID-19 vaccine? 

Teachers:                Request Answer Key

In this TED talk, Alex Tabarrok explains how the supply and demand of ideas affects us all.

Alex Tabarrok summarizes the reasons why prizes are an important tool to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading... 

Why Are Some Countries Rich and Others Poor?

The Economics of Ideas: COVID-19 Vaccine?

During a pandemic, we need new treatments — and fast. Economists often say, “incentives matter”, and that’s true, even in a pandemic. 

A vaccine or treatment is, fundamentally, an idea

However, as you’ll see, ideas are a bit tricky to incentivize. Watch the video below to learn about three different ways we can encourage the development of new ideas: patents, prizes, and subsidies.