All About the Business Cycle: Where Do Recessions Come From?

What constitutes a recession? Two quarters of negative real GDP growth? Well, most of the time that “rule of thumb” definition works, but not always. The NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee has a more nuanced way of determining what a recession is. This essay discusses where recessions come from, how they are determined, and how they end.

Teachers: Visit the Reading Q&As in our Econ Lowdown Teacher Portal to find the high school/college teacher editions (including an answer key) for this issue; to assign an online version of the student materials; and to collect student scores on the questions.

See the Page One Economics archive for more topics »

Keep your students in the know on timely economic issues with Page One Economics. Page One Economics provides a simple, short overview of a current economic event that offers students an opportunity to use close reading strategies. The Teacher’s Guide includes student questions and a teacher answer key, plus additional resources and lesson ideas for classroom, extra credit, or make-up assignments. You can subscribe via RSS feed or email.


If you have difficulty accessing this content due to a disability, please contact us at 314-444-8624 or

Find More Economics and Personal Finance Resources

Education Level: 9-12 College Non-educators
Subjects: AP Economics Economics
Concepts: Business Cycle Employment Gross Domestic Product/GDP
Resource Types: Publication
Languages: English
Back to Top