Teaching Comparative Advantage Theory in Economics | MobLab
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Before You Play: Teaching Comparative Advantage Theory Game

Phil Limberg
MobLab is used to teach economics by educators around the world, and one of our most popular MobLab game across the globe is Comparative Advantage. In this game, each student operates a food truck and allocates their time to the production of burgers and french fries. The trucks have a comparative advantage in either burger or fries production. Students earn points in the game equal to min{burgers, fries} since hungry customers only want to purchase meal combos.

Running the Game(s)

When playing this game we recommend instructors sequence the game (i.e., create two games with different features and play them back-to-back): (1) No Trade, followed by (2) Trade Allowed. By unchecking the Allow Trade button the students engage in production only.

This serves two purposes: First, it allows students to become familiar with the interface and to comprehend the minimum function that determines how they earn points. Second, running No Trade before Trade Allowed provides a good mental benchmark for students to compare trade outcomes against. Although the default in the Comparative Advantage game is one round we recommend playing at least two rounds (at two minutes a piece) of the "Trade Allowed." This helps to ensure you will get some good data to show students on how trade benefited them.


Upon game completion, the data is immediately available. The key graph is under the "Production & Trade" heading. It shows the Production Possibilities Frontier (PPF) for both trucks, their production decisions within each pairing, and the after-trade bundle of burgers and fries. As always, the graphs are interactive so you can isolate the PPF or data that you want to talk about with students by unchecking the variables you want to disappear.

No Trade - Consumption on the PPF
Trade - Consumption beyond the PPF

This is how you can run the MobLab comparative advantage economics game with two treatments in class. If you would like to see how to use it in an asynchronous environment, check out our post on our comparative advantage online assignment.

To learn more, get in touch with our team. We’re happy to help. Click here to schedule a one-on-one demo meeting.