Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Panini stickers and economic literacy

Since the sixties, a very popular "game" in European schools is the trading of Panini stickers. The Italian company Panini would distribute ahead of important sporting events a free booklet, and then sell stickers randomly distributed in packets. The scheme is similar to trading cards, with the twist that they relate to events with a nationalistic twist. Currently, the stickers for the European Football Championships are all the rage.

Parents would always complain about the futility and the cost of these collections. Once the event is over, there is no residual value. While I agree it is rather costly to participate in this game (estimate for a complete collection: €500.00), it has definitely value in terms of economic literacy. Indeed, the kids learn about barter, and especially about the relative value of items. While every sticker has the same printing, home teams, stars, and the "shiny" stickers are typically valued higher. And it gives a chance to lower class kids to shine when they have a prized sticker.

Baseball cards follow a similar concept and also can improve economic literacy. However, they have a lasting value, and thus many adults are involved as well, which definitely makes it less fun for the kids. Stock market games are based on the same concepts, but they are not nearly as entertaining and involving as those sticker albums.

1 comment:

Vilfredo said...

I remember the insane amounts of pocket money I pilfered on these stickers. Whether this made me a better economist remains an open question, though.

There are other ways that are more economical. I think the common point is that they always involve some form of collecting: stamps, coins (see the current collections of US quarters or country specific euro coins), beany babies, box tops, lids. Unfortunately, some cases also teach you something about bubbles...