As a student in the IB Diploma Programme, you must write a 4,000-word independent essay on a topic you choose. In economics, this essay lets you research more deeply. You can study something you’re interested in and that’s important for academics.

By doing this essay, you will:

  1. Improve your research skills.
  2. Use economic ideas to understand real-world situations.
  3. Judge the results of your research.

You’ll need to work about 40 hours on this essay, with help from a school supervisor. The end product should be a clear, well-organized essay that answers your research question.

To do well in this economics essay, you should be willing to learn more through research. Finding good data that fits your question and theory is important. This often means reading academic articles beyond your regular economics studies.

Topic Selection

When you’re picking a topic for your economics extended essay (EE), choose something from the syllabus that really interests you. Build your essay on the basic ideas of economics, and use them to explore a topic you’re passionate about. Use the economic theories, tools, and techniques you’ve learned in your IB economics classes to study your chosen topic.

As you decide on your economics EE topic, remember these things:

    1. Stay away from history: Pick a topic and question that are about economic things from the last five years.
    2. Make sure it works with economic ideas: Your question should be something you can answer using economic theories and ideas.
    3. Allow for careful thinking: Your chosen topic should let you look closely at the information you collect.
    4. Keep it clear and focused: While staying clear, your essay should also show how well you understand economics, analyze things, and make judgments.

Crafting a Research Question

Once you’ve found a good topic, the next step is to make a clear and specific question for your extended essay (EE). This question should really focus on economics and not go into other subjects. If your question doesn’t connect well with economic ideas, it can make it hard to think deeply and look at things carefully. So, it’s important to use economic theories in how you deal with the information you find, to meet the requirements of the economics EE.

Here are some examples of good research questions (all follow the rule of being about things from the last five years for the economics EE):

    1. How do inflation and interest rates affect a country’s economy?
    2. Compare price elasticity and demand elasticity.
    3. What makes supply and demand change?
    4. Explain the idea of market balance.
    5. What causes consumer prices to rise in China?
    6. What is the Matthew Effect and how does it relate to social investment?
    7. Look at trade models involving different types of businesses, growing productivity, and trade connections.
    8. How are salary levels connected to ‘economic convergence’ in the United States?
    9. Compare how people in the United States and China have spent money over the last 20 years.
    10. What does it mean to have a Cashless economy?

Collecting data

If you want to do original research on any topic in microeconomics, macroeconomics, or the global economy, that’s a great idea! Just make sure that your topic hasn’t already been studied in books or other sources.

For microeconomics, you can do your own research by asking people questions. You can talk to teachers, reporters, government workers, or business people. Just make sure their answers fit with your research question. But remember, you don’t have to use your own research for your essay.

On the other hand, if your essay is about macroeconomics or the global economy, you’ll probably use information that’s already been gathered. You can get this information from academic papers, government papers, numbers collected by different groups, and articles in newspapers, magazines, or online. Sometimes, old records can help too. For these types of essays, using the right information is really important. You’ll need to use this information to build strong arguments that answer your research question. Make sure not to just repeat what others have said.

Analysis and Evaluation

Effectively delving into analysis transpires when the gathered information is scrutinized through the lens of pertinent economic theories. Throughout the entirety of your extended essay (EE), the integration of pertinent economic theories, models, and tools should seamlessly intertwine with the evidence garnered from your research. An avenue for showcasing critical analysis and evaluation lies in skillfully assessing the applicability and relevance of relevant economic theories in the context of your chosen topic and in addressing the research question at hand.

Caution should be exercised to abstain from asserting knowledge claims anchored in economic theories, models, or tools if meaningful connections to the selected topic and research question cannot be established. A paramount characteristic of highly effective essays is their adept utilization of supporting data or evidence to consistently address the specific research question.

Noteworthy is Criterion C of the assessment criteria, necessitating the explicit inclusion of conclusions for individual points of analysis. This underscores the importance of incorporating interim conclusions within your work, rather than confining them solely to a distinct section at the essay’s conclusion.

Demonstrating a critical awareness concerning the validity of collected and employed information is crucial. For instance, the inclusion of theories and diagrams within the essay demands support from critical and reflective thought processes. When formulating arguments, it’s incumbent upon you to manifest an awareness of your research’s limitations and the inherent imperfections within the economic theories and assumptions of the utilized models. This can be achieved through the critical assessment of the degree to which economic theory elucidates or falls short in explaining the realities associated with your researched topic.

Additionally, it’s prudent to note that throughout your essay, consistent demonstration of critical awareness regarding secondary information (and primary sources, if employed) is requisite. This demonstration should span the entirety of the essay, rather than being relegated solely to its conclusion.

Structure of the essay

Title Page

  • Title of the essay.
  • Research question (phrased as a question).
  • Subject for which the essay is registered.
  • Word count declaration.
  • Table of Contents


  • Introduce the topic and its relevance to economics.
  • Present the research question.
  • Outline the scope and purpose of the essay.
  • Establish the significance of the research question within the field

Body of the essay

  • Explain the research methods used (e.g., primary research, secondary research).
  • Detail data collection techniques (surveys, interviews, secondary data sources).
  • Justify why these methods were chosen and how they contribute to answering the research question.
  • Present your findings from the research.
  • Apply economic theories and models to analyze the data
  • Use charts, graphs, and other visuals to support your analysis.
  • Connect the findings to the research question.
  • Interpret the results in the context of the research question.
  • Compare and contrast your findings with existing literature.
  • Address any limitations or challenges encountered during research.
  • Discuss the implications of your findings in terms of economics.


  • Summarize the main points of your essay.
  • Answer the research question based on your analysis.
  • Reflect on the significance of your findings and their implications.
  • Address any limitations and suggest areas for further research.


List all sources cited in your essay, following a specific citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).


Include any additional material that supports your analysis (e.g., survey questions, interview transcripts, data tables).

Remember that the structure may vary slightly depending on your specific research topic and approach. Always refer to the guidelines provided by your school and the International Baccalaureate (IB) organization.

For those seeking excellence in their economics extended essay journey, QE is with you every step. Beyond resources and guidance, we offer tailored intensive adhoc classes. These specialized sessions will empower you with the tools and strategies to confidently tackle your economics extended essay.