IB Economics Content Overview

IB Economics Overview

Course Overview

The IB Economics allows students to develop an understanding of economic activities in a rapidly changing world using economic models and theories.

The aims of the economics course are to enable students to:

  • Understand a range of economic theories, models, concepts, and methods in the area of microeconomics, macroeconomics and the global economy
  • Analyse real-world economic data with these theories, models, concepts, and methods.
  • Develop a conceptual understanding of interactions, challenges and consequences of economic decision making.

Course Objectives

Students will be expected to meet these objectives:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the syllabus content
  • Apply economic concepts and theories in the analysis of real-world situations
  • Synthesize and evaluate economic information and theories to construct and present an argument
  • Produce well-written material (essays, diagrams) using appropriate economic theory, concepts, and terminology
  • Interpret appropriate data sets and extracts from media
  • Use quantitative techniques to identify, explain and analyse economic relationships

Curriculum Components

The curriculum components are the same at both the Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL), but the HL course gets into more detail and/or covers more subtopics.

The following is a breakdown of the topics and their recommended hours. Subtopics in Bold are HL only.

ComponentRecommended teaching hours - SLRecommended teaching hours - HL
Unit 1: Introduction to economics
1.1 What is economics?
1.2 How do economists approach the world?
Unit 2: Microeconomics
2.1 Demand
2.2 Supply
2.3 Competitive market equilibrium
2.4 Critique of the maximizing behaviour of consumers and producers
2.5 Elasticity of demand
2.6 Elasticity of supply
2.7 Role of government in microeconomics
2.8 Market failure—externalities and common
pool or common access resources
2.9 Market failure—public goods
2.10 Market failure – asymmetric information
2.11 Market failure – market power
2.12 The market’s inability to achieve equity
Unit 3: Macroeconomics
3.1 Measuring economic activity and illustrating its variations
3.2 Variations in economic activity— aggregate demand and aggregate supply
3.3 Macroeconomic objectives
3.4 Economics of inequality and poverty
3.5 Demand management (demand-side policies)—monetary policy
3.6 Demand management—fiscal policy
3.7 Supply-side policies
Unit 4: The global economy
4.1 Benefits of international trade
4.2 Types of trade protection
4.3 Arguments for and against trade control/ protection
4.4 Economic integration
4.5 Exchange rates
4.6 Balance of payments
4.7 Sustainable development
4.8 Measuring development
4.9 Barriers to economic growth and/or economic development
4.10 Economic growth and/or economic
development strategies
Total Hours130220


The following is a breakdown of the different types of assessments. Note the differences between SL and HL. For the internal assessment, both SL and HL candidates are required to produce a portfolio of three commentaries based on published extracts from real-world news media using the key concepts as a lens. In addition, for the external assessment, there are two examinations for SL and three examinations for HL.

Type of AssessmentFormat of AssessmentTimeWeighting of final grade (%) - SLWeighting of final grade (%) - HL
Paper 1Extended response paper on all units of the syllabus1 hour 45 mins3020
Paper 2Data response paper based on all units of the syllabus1 hour 45 mins4030
Paper 3 (HL Only)Policy paper based on all units of the syllabus1 hour 45 mins-30
PortfolioThree commentaries based on different units of the syllabus (except the introductory unit) and from published extracts from the news media, analysed using different key concepts20 hours3020

The information in this article was extracted from the IB DP Economics Subject Brief – Individuals and societies: Economics.