Konrad-Adenauer-Gymnasium
Langenfeld

Finalist for the region West

EconoMe

How can a democracy be stable without the political and economic knowledge of those who have the privilege to vote? Although the democratic system is anchored in each of our minds and was even taught at a young age, the actual situation is much more worrying, than most would expect. But how is this possible? The difference is that democracy is being taught at our schools, but there is a lack of economic education. Isn’t this the perfect ground for the rise of populist parties and misunderstanding between politicians/parties and the voters?
According to the theory about the political system by David Easton (1965), the political system gets input by its citizens in terms of demand and support. These result in action taking and decision making by the political system. Consequently, the output can never meet the expectations if the input does not match the proper and best course of action.
Referring to a study held by the University of Bonn in 2018, 30 percent of the participants refused to answer, how high the German stock index (DAX) was. What is even more shocking is that the average participant guessed the annual economic growth of Germany to be 4 percent. In reality, the economy grew by 1,8 percent in 2018. It becomes obvious that something must be done against this issue of economic ignorance.
At this point, EconoMe comes into place.

EconoMe is the name for our app, that will help establish economic education within the society. An app is a perfect way to reach that goal because it is not only extremely time effective through easy access and operation, but also reaches a vast majority of people. We can ensure to motivate people to use this app by adding new, suggested content and reminding users about their education. In addition, the content shall be adjusted to the individual user by adapting a level-based system. We are proud to say, that the idea to connect the ever-increasing use of smartphones with the conveying of economic knowledge to people in all social groups is completely new and we are keen to innovate further in this direction.
In order to achieve this, there are several difficulties that mean to be overcome. For example, we do not have the financial capabilities to create and upload a proper app, nor do we have the technical know-how on how to program the app. We are facing these challenges by cooperating with the “Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung”. As a governmental institution, they have the capabilities that a few students are lacking. To establish trust between EconoMe and its users, we are desperate to keep an open dialogue and convey surveys about the app, in order to keep improving and extending.
We are working hard to reach that goal of universal economic intelligence. It is one of the greatest challenges of today’s world to battle the rise of autocrats and the downfall of democracy through a raw lack of knowledge. With the new, upcoming superpower China and the other influential global authoritarian states, the maintenance of democracy becomes increasingly vital. Therefore we are not driven by the vision of making money but driven by the vision of bringing the understanding of money back to the people. In the end, it’s about the survival of democracy, nothing more.

Their YES! topic

The Economy and I – Economic education as a prerequisite for our participation in a democratic society

by Theresa Markefke and Felix Mindl, iwp Institute for Economic Policy at the University of Cologne

Debates are held daily in the Bundestag on the right type of taxation, the protection of employees, subsidies to promote the economy and many other economic topics. Especially in the period before the next election, the media presence is high and promises for the future by politicians are numerous. But soon it is only all about growth rates, tax rates and other key figures. To understand these figures and to be able to put the economic arguments in the right perspective, knowledge of economic interrelationships and institutional structures is a necessary prerequisite. Only if you can place yourself correctly in these conflicting situations you can make the right decision as a voter. To do this, one should be able to answer questions such as the following correctly: Is my income or that of my parents relatively high or low compared to the rest of the German population? Do I find the distribution of the tax burden in Germany fair? How many people do not have a job, and what instruments are available to secure their livelihood?

Researchers have found that economic knowledge, in particular, is in short supply among Germans. In a large-scale survey by Altmann et al. (2018), only a third of those questioned were able to achieve a satisfactory result. Also, systematic differences in economic education exist between women and men, young and old, rich and poor. This has repercussions on the political process and the design of institutions that affect each individual. The question of a fair tax system is difficult to answer without knowing the distribution and one’s own position in it. Economic ignorance and misjudgement of the economic situation can even lead to distrust of the existing political system as a whole. A study by Diermeier and Niehues (2019), for example, finds the connection between overestimating unemployment and rejecting democracy and supranational organizations. Also, those who particularly overestimate unemployment tend towards right-wing populist voting behaviour.

What facts and connections should every citizen in Germany know? How can this knowledge be spread? So how can economic education be made attractive?