20 Economic History Research Paper Topics For High School Students


Economic history is a broad topic that lends itself to a number of topic possibilities for a high school research paper project. Choosing a unique and interesting topic is a key in crafting a great paper so we’ve come up with some research ideas for you to consider. Here are 20 of the best:


  1. According to how the capitalistic system in the U.S. has evolved, what can you say about the differences in interests between laborers and owners?
  2. Examine U.S. history in terms of how the production of economic value has encouraged how the labor class has improved its ability to perform.
  3. Provide a critical analysis of the recent U.S. recession of the 2000s and how likely it was to become the second Great Depression the nation has faced.
  4. Compare and contrast different periods in U.S. history when immigrant populations have been blamed for economic woes in the country.
  5. Provide a critical analysis of Thomas Jefferson’s economic model. Which aspects of it have survived in today’s modern economic structure?
  6. What factors have contributed to the economic fall of Detroit, Michigan? Do you think the collapse could have been prevented?
  7. Describe what a modern “Robber Baron” looks like. In what ways do exploitations by today’s Robber Barons are different from those of the 19th century when the term was introduced?
  8. When did the concept of the materialistic-American begin in the U.S.? How as this affected the country’s economy through the years?
  9. What do natural disasters do for the national economy? Consider private companies that profit by selling products and services for relief efforts.
  10. What where the well- and lesser-known events leading up to the Great Depression of the 1930s?
  11. Examine how social security has evolved since its introduction in the 20th century and provide an explanation for why it has succeeded / failed.
  12. Write a literary review of Adam Smith’s economic treatise, “The Wealth of Nations” and put it into context with modern works.
  13. How has the rural economy developed in the U.S. in the 20th century? Consider several agricultural aspects as well as issues surrounding tourism.
  14. Discuss the history of the American sweatshop worker and how current practices of outsourcing are ethical / unethical?
  15. Do you think Mad Men’s depiction of advertising agencies of the 1960s is accurate in the way it self-promotes its influence on how people live today?
  16. Examine the depictions of slave culture on Confederate currency and why it became an effective tool towards unifying southern states.
  17. Provide a critical analysis for how advertising evolved throughout the 20th century and the ways it affected the U.S. economy.
  18. Examine the history of credit union and private credit card companies. How have the emergence of these two forces of capitalism affected the current economy?
  19. Is it a good idea to trust oral histories when it comes to pieces together an accurate history of the U.S. economy?
  20. How has tax evasion negatively affected the economy in the U.S. as a whole? Do you think those guilty of the crime should be punished more severely?