"Irreplacable" by Beyonce

Linda S. Ghent, Eastern Illinois University
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This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


This flash animation for the song "Irreplaceable" demonstrates how the availability of substitutes affects the price elasticity of demand. Beyonce notes that her current boyfriend is not "irreplaceable," meaning that her demand for him is elastic. The study of elasticity is often dry and boring and very mechanical due to the the large number of calculations involved. Using the flash animation provides a nice alternative for visual learners.

Learning Goals

  • To illustrate the most important determinant of the price elasticity of demand (availability of substitutes)
  • To demonstrate how the price elasticity of demand affects the shape of the demand curve

Context for Use

This would work well after the students understand what the price elasticity of demand measures. The flash animation runs the length of the song (3:46). Class discussion should only take 5-7 minutes after the song.

Description and Teaching Materials

Go to http://www.musicforecon.com

If you have not registered, you must to get a password to have access to the library of animations. Scan down and click on the animation for "Irreplaceable."

Teaching Notes and Tips

Music for Economics contains copyrighted material. You need to obtain an ID and PW from the site creators to access the musical animations in the database.

It is important to drive home the idea that price elasticity is determined by the alternatives available to the consumer. An ability to switch boyfriends, as discussed in this song, means that the seller will be unable to raise his price without losing his buyer. Therefore, Beyonce's boyfriend cannot treat her poorly (raise the price of being his girlfriend) without risking her exit from the relationship.


To examine whether students understand the impact of the availability of substitutes, the instructor should ask students whether they believe how the price elasticities of demand for these products compare:

  1. insulin and aspirin
  2. Hershey's chocolate and chocolate
  3. Coca Cola and water

Ask students to create their own examples of goods that have many substitutes and those that have few substitutes. Use those examples in a quiz or on a test.

References and Resources

The (http://www.musicforecon.com) Music for Economics website contains numerous flash animations of popular music that instructors can use in economics courses. These are especially useful in Principles courses.