Unlike history, mathematics, English and chemistry, economics is a subject that most students study only briefly, sometimes they do not study it at all, before they begin to study at a college or university.
Economics has some similarities to mathematics because logical reasoning and mathematical tools are used in it extensively. It also has some similarities to history because economics studies people as they interact in social groups.
Like chemistry, economics uses scientific methods, although some of economics has a descriptive rather than an analytical character. Finally, like English grammar, economics has a few simple rules and principles, but from these principles economics can derive many conclusions.
Economics is a science of making choices. Individuals must decide whether to study or to work, what to choose as an occupation, and many other choices. As a group, people must also choose through their governments whether to invest money to business or to expand national parks, to build a dam or to repair highways with their taxes. The common element in all these decisions is that every choice involves costs.
In fact, economics is the study of the choice that people make and the actions that they take in order to make the best use of scarce resources in meeting their wants.
Economics is about the everyday life. How do we get our living? Why do we sometimes get more and sometimes less? Are we producing as efficiently as we could? Are we producing the “right things”? What are the “right things”? Who ought to decide this and why? The study of economics helps us to answer this sort of questions.
What Economists Do
Usually a person can use the name “economist” only if he or she has graduated from a college or university and has a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. By this definition there are about 100 000 economists in the USA.
About half of them are academic economists, who are engaged in teaching, writing and doing research in colleges and universities. They also write books and journal articles, develop and test new theoretical models, provide consulting services to governments and businesses and do a variety of other professional activities.
The other half of the profession works for enterprises or government. Business economists forecast sales and costs, demand and supply; prepare arguments to affect tax laws which are important to particular kinds of industries.
Government economists also perform a variety of useful tasks. They forecast tax revenues and interest rates, analyse who gains and who loses from particular changes, monitor prices, compute total output and perform other useful tasks.