We introduce a simple web-based classroom experiment in which students learn the Ricardian model of international trade. Students are assigned to countries and then make individual production, trade and consumption decisions. The analysis of experimental data introduces students to the concepts of absolute and comparative advantage, relative prices, production possibility frontier, specialization, gains from trade, utility maximization and general equilibrium. Students learn about the relationship between individual decision-making and aggregate economic activity. The associated software, Ricardian Explorer, is easy to setup and requires minimal preparation time for instructors. The game is developed as a tool to complement courses in international trade, but it can be used in introductory and intermediate microeconomics courses as well. The analysis of teaching effectiveness has demonstrated that integration of this experiment in the curriculum enhances student learning.
Advances in communication and transportation technologies have the potential to bring people closer together and create a ‘global village’. However, they also allow heterogenous agents to segregate along special interests which gives rise to communities fragmented by type rather than geography. We show that lower communication costs should always decrease separation between individual agents even as group-based separation increases. Each measure of separation is pertinent for distinct types of social interaction. A group-based measure captures the diversity of group preferences that can have an impact on the provision of public goods. An individual measure correlates with the speed of information transmission through the social network that affects, for example, learning about job opportunities and new technologies. We test the model by looking at coauthoring between academic economists before and during the rise of the Internet in the 1990s.