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How to Structure Your IB Economics IA

Writing brilliant IB Economics IAs are a crucial part of your success in the subject. Over the course of your IB, you’ll be asked to write three commentaries of 800 words each. In this blog, we discuss our favourite way to structure your IB Economics IA, making sure you pick up all the marks you deserve!

Introduction (75 words)

The introduction of your IA should outline and summarize your chosen article in 2 or 3 brief sentences. Make clear references to your article, often using a quote to show that you’re discussing the situation from your source. In the introduction, define a few key terms that will be used going forward through the essay. You do not need to define every key term that you will be using in your whole IA – only define words that you’ve just used, or are just about to use. It should be clear by the end of your introduction 1. What the real-life situation that you’re considering is, and 2. What the proposed policy that is being suggested is.

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What was the underlying problem? (100 words)

To start off your analysis, you need to discuss what the underlying problem in the country is. Let’s say the government is considering imposing a tax on a specific good– in this case, the underlying problem may be that currently consumers are overconsuming this good, so placing an excise tax on it may cause a reduction in quantity consumed. Explain why the overconsumption of that good is a bad thing for society. You may want to draw a diagram and give a clear explanation on how overconsumption of a good causes market failure through negative externalities, and how that may be a detriment to society.

What is the proposed policy (and what is its intended effect)? (250-300 words)

The bulk of your analysis will fall under this section. This is where you explain and show how the government is aiming to solve the situation that you outlined in the previous section. For example, how will the imposition of a tax theoretically reduce the quantity consumed? Show this using a diagram. Don’t leave your diagram hanging, though! In order to get full points for a diagram you’ll need to make sure that you clearly explain your diagram. For example, ‘as a result of the imposition of an excise tax, the supply curve will shift inwards from S1 to S2. The leftward shift of the supply curve causes a new equilibrium to be established at…’ .

What are some unintended effects of the policy? (250-300 words)

Don’t underestimate the impact of good evaluation on your IA score. So far, you’ve done the ‘easy’ part – discussing the problem and proposed solution is. Now’s your time to really shine, if you’re going for a 6 or a 7 in your Economics IA. The evaluation can focus on CLASPP

Conclusion - rounding out the thoughts and suggestions you have already discussed throughout the commentary

Long-Term vs. Short-Term – will the effectiveness of the policy change over time?

Assumptions – what does economic theory suggest that is undermined or neglected by the content of the article? How does this affect the proposal?

Stakeholders – how are those parties addressed in the article affected differently (consumers, producers, government)? Even within these groups, who wins and who loses?

Priorities – in the economic context, what should be the priority of policymakers and is the content of the article in line with that?

Pros & Cons – what are the advantages of the policy in the article? What are the disadvantages?

Conclusion (75 words) 

A conclusion should summarize your main ideas in 2-3 sentences. Try to recap the reason behind the policy implementation, the intended effect of the policy, and include some evaluation about the situation. Don’t bring up any big new thoughts or ideas in this section as you won’t be able to thoroughly explain them!  Your conclusion should be there to tie up your IA; succinctly highlighting the analysis you have undertaken.

Don’t Forget to Include!

  • the title of the article 
  • the source of the article
  • the date the article was published
  • the date the commentary was written
  • the word count of the commentary 
  • the unit of the syllabus to which the article relates 
  • the key concept being used

So there we have it, the Lanterna team’s guide to structuring your IB Economics IAs. Still feeling a little stressed about getting these done? Feel free to find out more about how our elite tutors can help catapult your grades!

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