TL;DR Majors: Economics

By Shang Chen
May 19, 2021 · 2 minute read

What is Economics?

"Economics is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services."

Breaking down that definition a bit more, economics is concerned about two main things:

  1. How do people interact with value?
  2. How do people interact with each other?

Since the beginning of recorded human history, we have seen forms of trade in even early human civilizations. Simple barter economies were created to facilitate the exchange of goods and services of equivalent value. These people did not have a measure of value in the form of money. Instead, they would trade for whatever they needed to survive. However, as humans accumulated into cities and trade became more and more complicated, the first economists arose to make an order and give structure to the way humans do business.

For a more in-depth look at economics, check out this video series by our friends at CrashCourse:

How has Economics evolved?

Our modern version of economics is considered to have started in 1776 with Adam Smith's publication of Wealth of Nations. However, the field of economics has changed greatly since its inception. Like physics or biology, economics was not always perfectly accurate in its models and explanation of the markets around us. An example of an economic failure was the Great Depression in 1929. Back then, economists believed that the economy would always drift back to equilibrium and that the government should not be involved in the regulating of the economy. Likewise, foolish and risky gambles by the big banks caused the Great Recession in 2007-2009. As economists, we must take the lessons that history has taught us and ensure that they do not happen again. While economics is a field with much history and depth, it is also a field that is constantly changing and evolving with people and with the times, making it an exciting subject to major in.

What careers do economics majors get?

Economists are equipped to handle a variety of jobs, with required coursework including math, statistics, and ethics courses. Economists tend to go one of three routes:

  1. Higher Education - Some economic majors choose to pursue higher education in the form of a Masters's or Doctorate. Students that would want to go down this route need to be strong writers and researchers as, after four years, graduate students will have to present their thesis paper to be peer-reviewed by their professors and colleagues.
  2. Industry - Some economics majors decide to go straight into industry and work as financial analysts or consultants. This pathway is rigorous and rewarded as students tend to make high wages going into these jobs at the cost of long working hours. Companies that hire economists include Investment Banking, Hedge Funds, Consulting firms, Data Analytics firms, and tech companies.
  3. Government/Policy - Economics majors can also choose to go into a more policy-focused route and choose to either work for the government directly by working in Federal Reserve Banks or indirectly by having an advising role at a political think tank.

TL;DR: Economics is the social science that studies how people interact with value. The field is constantly evolving and offers many high-impact careers in a variety of fields.

Did you enjoy this article?

About The Author

Shang is a current undergraduate at UC Berkeley studying Economics and Data Science. His hobbies include cooking, hiking, and playing video games. Send him new article recommendations or suggestions at


More on this topic...

TL;DR Science: Carbon Cycle

Carbon is found everywhere; it’s the backbone of life. It’s in plants, animals, the oceans, rocks, the air, and even inside you. So how has carbon made it around the Earth to become part of the deepest rocks and highest points of the atmosphere? In this week’s article, we’ll be covering the carbon cycle as we trace this crucial element’s path around the world.

Every Drop Counts: Installing Smart Showers

As our scarce water supplies are being depleted at faster rates, a new generation of scientists are challenged with coming up with more efficient ways of conserving our remaining water resources. These days, new technologies like Smart Showers are helping people all around the world limit and reduce their water usage. Find out more about these technologies in this week’s article.

Bioethics - Unethical human experimentation 

Science is meant to improve our lives, right; or is it possible that not all scientists may not have the best intentions? Throughout scientific history, there have been an unfortunate number of cases in which the scientific method has been carried out with the best intentions or ethics. In this article, historical examples of unethical human experiments are going to be discussed, and how they are avoided in the modern day.

TL;DR Science: Classification of Animals as it Relates to Humans

Ever wonder why humans are classified the way we are? Check out this week's article for a brief overview of the classification system within the animal kingdom.

Today, 48 Years Ago

In this week’s article: Which properties of space were utilized for human needs in the vacuum? What is the purpose of the Mariner 10 project? What planet has a longer day than a year? What discoveries did the Mariner 10 program make? How does our Solar system look? and much more