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Teens Think Economics Education is Important, but Struggle with Basic Economic Concepts

Research Conducted by Junior Achievement USA and Charles Koch Foundation in Support of New JA Economics® Program

According to a recent survey, 93 percent of teens believe economics education is "important," yet struggle with basic concepts like "supply and demand" and the role of the Federal Reserve. The survey of 1,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 was conducted by Wakefield Research for Junior Achievement USA (JA) and the Charles Koch Foundation in support of the launch of a new JA Economics® program.

"One of the things we have heard over the years is that some high school economics textbooks are written too academically for most students to understand the concepts," said Jack E. Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. "Our new JA Economics program is written from the perspective of today's teens and uses digital content to help bring economic concepts to life for students, increasing their understanding of these concepts."

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 41% of respondents could not identify the definition of "tariff," including 36% of respondents who said that they had an entire economics course in school.
  • 47% of respondents could not identify the definition of "supply and demand," including 37% who said that they had an entire economics course in school.
  • 81% of respondents could not identify the role of the "Federal Reserve," including 76% who said that they had an entire economics course in school.

Aligned with national and state education standards, JA Economics is a one-semester blended-learning course that connects high school students to the economic principles that influence their daily lives as well as their futures. Through a variety of experiential activities presented by the teacher and volunteer, students better understand the relationship between what they learn in school and their successful participation in today's global economy.

"Junior Achievement has been pushing the bounds of what students and educators can achieve for more than a century," said Ryan Stowers, executive director of the Charles Koch Foundation. "Their new Economics Program shows they're only increasing pace, reimagining the materials and programs that enable students to engage with topics and see how they apply in their own lives."

Survey Methodology

The JA Economics Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 1,000 U.S. teens ages 13-18, between September 6th and September 13th, 2019, using an email invitation and an online survey.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

About the Charles Koch Foundation

The Charles Koch Foundation supports research, educational programs, and civil discourse to advance an understanding of how people can best live together in peace and prosperity. The Foundation provides grants to support a wide range of inquiry on issues including criminal justice and policing reform, free speech and open inquiry, foreign policy, economic opportunity, and innovation. Visit for more information.

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