What is Economics?

Stock exchange board

Economics is the study of scarcity and its implications for the use of resources, production of goods and services, growth of production and welfare over time, and a great variety of other complex issues of vital concern to society. 

Economics is More than Numbers

Economics is a social science with stakes in many other fields, including political science, geography, mathematics, sociology, psychology, engineering, law, medicine and business. The central quest of economics is to determine the most logical and effective use of resources to meet private and social goals. Production and employment, investment and savings, health, money and the banking system, government policies on taxation and spending, international trade, industrial organization and regulation, urbanization, environmental issues and legal matters (such as the design and enforcement of property rights), are just a sampling of the concerns at the heart of the science of economics.

Economics is Personal (Microeconomics)

Microeconomics studies the implications of individual human action, and is key to a person's financial health. Personal resources are scarce, too! One can always use another dollar, hour of time, or new skill. Achieving the most satisfactory allocation of one’s resources is crucial, and studying allocation problems improves one’s ability to make both daily and life-long decisions. Some examples of common day-to-day economics questions include: Should I pay cash, borrow or sign a lease to get that new car? Should I take out a home-equity loan or invest in the stock market? Should I open a 401K plan now or wait until next year? Economists understand how to make these decisions in their own lives, and can advise others on a personal or professional level. 

Economics is Universal (Macroeconomics)

Macroeconomics studies how the economy behaves as a whole, including inflation, price levels, rate of growth, national income, gross domestic product and changes in employment rates. Some of the important questions American economists try to answer include: “In a nation as rich as the U.S., why are so many people under-employed?” and “Who determines how much money is circulating in the U.S.?” From politicians to educators to journalists to urban planners, a thorough understanding of macroeconomics has a strong impact on leadership skills, decision-making and the ability to plan for a flourishing social future. To meet this need, the Department of Economics has designed a multidisciplinary curriculum that prepares students to maneuver seamlessly from one area of focus to another.

Economics is for You

If you want to understand wealth, poverty, growth, trade, money, jobs, income, depression, recession, prices and monopolies, and study what makes the world work from day to day, you will be fascinated by the complex field of economics!