Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire
Students learn the concepts of money and inflation in the context of world history. They first participate in a role play to learn how debasement increased the Roman money supply and caused inflation in the Roman Empire. They receive a soldier’s wages in coins (candy) and participate in an auction, and then receive higher wages in debased coins (candy) and participate in a second auction. They compare the outcomes of the auctions and learn that inflation occurs when “too much money is chasing too few goods” and that this outcome characterized the economy during the last centuries of the Roman Empire. Finally, students analyze historical data and read historical quotes that show how people in the Roman Empire responded to inflation.
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