Resources for a new syllabus in IB Economics

(updated 9th Feb 2011)

As an International School teacher I am always scouting for new resources. Previously when in New Zealand, I could pop down to the local bookstore and see all four text books written for the local curriculum. With the development of the new curriculum there are more good quality textbooks appearing each week. Given that the global market is still quite small (around 14,000 students enrol for IB Economics each year, 12,000 for the May session and 1,600 for December the number of textbooks is very healthy. Whilst our school pushes ahead with a 1 to 1 laptop environment, I am also seeking good online resources such as PDF versions of textbooks to support my students. This is my latest research based on discussions with some of the current authors.

  • Pearson Baccalaureate Economics: This is a new textbook written by a teacher who I collaborate with.  Jason Welker from the Zurich International School, runs the very successful site Economics in Plain English, which contains over 500 posts about Economics. The site is designed to support students in the IB and AP Economics programmes. He is working with Pearson Education to co-write a book which will cover the quantitative elements of the new syllabus, plus all of the other topics. Jason has a wonderful style of writing that reflects his globalized world view and thus his work always contains great case studies. Draft chapters are available on his blog as samples. The book will be available in Spring 2011. Samples – Income Redistribution | Unemployment, Inflation and the Philips Curve | Price Control in European Agricultural Markets
  • Economics for the IB Diploma: This is a very comprehensive textbook which was first published in September 2009. In my opinion this is an excellent textbook, written by Ellie Tragakes which follows the current syllabus very carefully. Ellie was a Chief Examiner for IB Economics during the period 2007-2009 and the book has the academic rigor required by many top students. It includes excellent evaluations of concepts which helps students attain the requirement of internal assessments. Ellie has included good graphs and diagrams throughout the text to support students learning. It is a hefty text at over 600 pages, which is a little daunting for new pupils and students who need ESL support. I think it is the best book on the market, but does it lack case studies which make some books really standout (eg. Principles of Economics – Greg Mankiw) Most teachers will use the internet and newspapers to support the text. This book will be updated soon to reflect changes in the new syllabus and will also be available in an updated PDF format See eBook here or website Cambridge Learning.
  • IB Economics Course Companion: This book seemed to have a monopoly on the market until the previous textbook was released in late 2009. The book is written by two deputy chief examiners, Ian Dorton and Jocelyn Blink who have an in-depth knowledge of the curriculum. Like most teachers, I found this book to a good basic text which covered each aspect of the curriculum. I felt it glossed over some of the higher-level concepts which as income distribution and the intricacies of the Theory of the Firm topic. It also find it to be an impediment to ESL students learning as the first edition had no glossary and at times is difficult to read. Recently this book has been updated for the new curriculum and given a burst of colour, as indicated from the sample pages. The book also contains a CD which will contain some additional practise questions and a glossary. I am still yet to discover if you can purchase a digital version of this textbook.
  • Economics – In Terms of the Good, the Bad and the Economist This is a book of biblical proportions. Written by Matt McGee who teachers at an International School in Mexico. I think it is a good textbook for advanced students and higher level candidates who need extenstion. It explain nearly every concept in great depth including some smaller things such as tradeable permits. It also make distinctions between topics such as subsidies and export subsidies through the use of examples. The books coverage of Development is very good. I have found it to be an expensive book, but I keep enough books for my Higher Level students and make is essential reading for Extended Essay students. A few people have mentioned that the second edition is far more readable that the first edition and more straightforward. That said, in my opinion is it still too complicated for many students who need more basic support to attain a 4 of 5. Website – IBID (this is for the 2nd edition of the text, which was published in late 2009)
  • Economics for the IB Diploma: Study Guide: I have found that this book written by Constantine Ziogas provides a good juxtaposition to the other textbooks discussed above. It is study guide which follows the syllabus carefully. It is useful when students are completing practise extended responses, as it provides a quick and precise overview of each topic. I use it to help summarise the Development topic after students complete a series of research projects. I keep a stash of these in my class to help students who struggle with the rich English requirements of the course. Amazon Link
  • Triple A Learning – Interactive Textbook: This is a resource our school purchased as we shifted to a 1 to 1 laptop environment. The resource is web based and arrives as a set of either HTML of SCORM files which are compatible with a variety of online learning environments including StudyWiz and Moodle. We purchased the add on test resources. Whilst the Interactive Textbook is available to all students, it is an inferior product to the conventional textbooks available on the market. The material is easily navigable and does include some good simulations and movable graphs. I think it is a good add on to any schools existing resources, especially in laptop schools, but I would not recommend using it to replace any of the above textbooks. See the Triple A Website here for more information – Triple A Learning

If you know of any other favourite textbooks, please let me know and I will happily include in this list.

11 thoughts on “Resources for a new syllabus in IB Economics

  1. kiran asad says:

    Thanks for sharing your resources with us. In Pakistan, I do follow Blink and Dorton and parts of Ellie Tragakes but am looking forward to Bryce McBrides’s book. Hope its published soon so we can have a deeper look of the new curriculum.


  2. Padma Menon says:

    Thanks Andrew for the analysis on the available resources. Have used McGee, Tragakes and Dorton and Blink all alternatively and have found them all very useful. As you mention I too have found the Tragakes book very comprehensive and complete in itself. Hopefully Tragakes updated book integrated with the quantitative elements as well as that of the others will be out soon!


  3. Bryce McBride says:

    Andrew, thank-you for your support. I have finished the workbook and have been to the printer here in Muscat to work out the costing for printing and distributing the books. I am optimistic that I will be able to get a 200 page workbook with a very solid binding into students’ hands for a very reasonable amount, which is my overriding intention.

    I will send a PDF to teachers with about 20 pages including the contents page in February. If anyone wants to send their email addresses to me so I can be sure I have the right one for your school, please write to me at: OR

    Thanks and when I have a final pricing figure I will let you know.

    Thanks again,

  4. Bryce McBride says:

    Dear Andrew,

    “Workbook for the New I.B. Economics” was printed this past Wednesday. Inspection copies are being mailed out now and I should have one to you this week sometime. I will mail you the cover art when I get back to Oman next week. Anyone interested in receiving an inspection copy should feel free to write to me at

    Take care,

      • Bryce McBride says:

        Dear Andrew,

        I am glad it arrived safely. I hope you will find it a useful addition to your arsenal of resources.

        Yesterday, after reading the OCC discussion about the effect of changing coefficients on the slopes of demand curves, I had this sinking feeling as I realized my math teaching experience had led me to make what I think is my only error of content in the book – I wrote that as the slope coefficient increased, the slope got steeper.

        It feels like getting the first scratch on a new car. You know it is going to happen, and when it does there is almost a sense of relief mixed in with the dismay.

        Anyway, I am compiling a list of errors (so far only about 4 small typos and this more serious one, which was repeated for supply as well…grrr) that I will send out during the summer to everyone who is using the book with students.

        OK, take care and thanks again.


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