Economics & Finance
WHAT IS ECONOMICS AND WHAT DO
Economics is the pulse of
modern civilization. The study of economics prepares students to play
meaningful roles in improving the human condition by contributing to a
healthy economic climate. Economics is a "social science". Those
two words provide a good bit of the answer to the title question.
Economists are scientists. We design experiments, test hypotheses, make
predictions, etc. As such, a good economist requires the same sort of
skills needed by a good chemist or physicist. (We do a lot of mathematical
modeling and statistical analysis.) As social scientists, economists work
in the laboratory of everyday human and organizational behavior.
We study the choices people
make as individual consumers, voters, taxpayers, employees, managers,
borrowers, lenders, property owners -- and how those choices affect all
our living standards. Our work takes us everywhere. We study the
differences in wage rates earned in different occupations, the connection
between the profit motive and the environment, the advantages and
disadvantages of foreign trade, the causes and costs of inflation and
unemployment, the effect of government regulations on health care, the
rate of return on education, the impact of new technology on costs and
prices, global opportunities and challenges that we will face in the new
century, among many other topics.
Economics majors learn
to reason as economists, to evaluate facts and ideas analytically, to
understand economic issues of historical and contemporary importance, and
to achieve clarity of expression and independence of learning so that they
are prepared for further education, responsible citizenship, and rewarding
careers. Because of the intellectual versatility and analytical skills
they develop and the wide range of issues they investigate, economists
turn up almost anywhere, and move easily from one assignment to another.
As an expert on competition, an economist might be involved in prosecution
of antitrust cases, design of farm policy, negotiation of trade agreements
or union contracts, decisions to deregulate cable TV or electricity
distribution, etc., etc. As an expert on forecasting, an economist might
be engaged to predict interest rates, exchange rates, consumer spending,
the size of the trade deficit, etc., etc. Graduates who major in economics
have gone on to careers in law, government, business, finance, foreign
service, consulting, education, and research.
Who employs economists?
Big business in any
State and federal
agencies that make government policy or regulate businesses (Congress,
The media (Business
organizations (World Bank, IMF),
organizations, labor unions, etc.
With a B.A. in economics
you can start out in a management training program in almost any industry
or as a research assistant in a government agency. With a graduate degree
in economics you can start out a lot closer to the top. In addition,
economists are frequently self-employed as consultants.
Last, but not least, because of the
skills developed in a good undergraduate economics program, economics
majors score better on the Law School Admission Test than students from
any other discipline.