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1998-1999 Essay Contest - What economic lessons can be drawn from this painting of a bustling sixteenth century Dutch market?


Economics is "a study of mankind in the ordinary business of life," wrote the great English economist Alfred Marshall. Thus, what economic lessons can be drawn from this bustling sixteenth century Dutch market?

This year the Essay Contest explores how "a picture is worth a thousand words." Students are to creatively apply their knowledge of economics to the image instead of simply answering a written question.


What economic concepts are depicted in this image? What connection do they have to the quality of life in a society? What economic institutions have arisen in response to these concepts? How have they influenced economic history? How do these concepts affect today's economy? These questions are to help prompt students in formulating their own ideas about the economic significance of this picture.

Students should take time to reflect on what they have learned in their economics classes and/or economics books and articles. They will explore how the picture relates to their knowledge of economics. Most important, students have the opportunity to creatively interpret the picture and find diverse resources to support their ideas.