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Lesson Plans

How to learn about the Chinese economy through rap songs

January 16, 2015

Full Lesson



An American rapper and comedian’s popular videos are taking a new approach to the issue of rising prices in China.

Life in the world’s second-biggest economy can be hard on consumers, according to Jesse Appell, who moved to China on a Fulbright scholarship and began producing rap covers and songs with lyrics about the Chinese economy.

China experienced large inflation numbers in 2010 and 2011, with prices for consumers rising by 5 percent. With a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $9,240,300,000,000, China’s economy is second only to the U.S., with a new report from the International Monetary Fund claiming that it is actually the biggest.

The rap songs have resonated with Chinese consumers because they feel those effects at the ground level, Appell said.

“Everybody’s always talking about, how am I going to make money? How much did that subway cost to build? How much do I pay to go on the subway? These issues come up in America, but they’re everywhere in China,” he said.

Economists say several factors contributed to Chinese inflation in recent years, including rising wages and a money printing spree by the Chinese central bank.

Warm up questions
  1. Where is China? What do you know about the country and its economy?
  2. Many states have begun to require high school students study economics. Why do you think it is or isn’t  important to study economics?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Give an example of microeconomics, then macroeconomics. Which one do you think has more relevance to your life? Explain your answer.
  2. How do you think the size of a country in terms of population relates to a country’s global economic impact? (Hint: Think about the economic power a very small country has compared to a very big country like China) What other factors do you think play a role in the size and power of a country’s economy?
  3. Why do you think Jesse is so popular in China? Do you think he would be as big of a star in the U.S.? Why or why not?

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