November 24, 2004

Fair and Balanced

These are two actual questions from a 2004 NCEA Economics Exam worth four credits:

The New Zealand government provides 'free'... education at state secondary schools. Explain why this results in a better resource allocation than the free market...


Explain why using 'free market' policies causes income inequality.

Some readers will agree with the underlying assumption present in both questions: free market bad, interventionist government solution good. Some won't. But everyone can agree this world view is hotly contested. And if the question were put the other way around - "Explain how using 'interventionist' policies restrains economic growth" - then the unhappiness would switch to the other side.

Basically, if you were writing an economics exam, wouldn't you try to avoid questions so obviously based on contentious, politicised arguments?

Just a thought.

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