TL;DR Majors: Economics

Written by Shang Chen | Wednesday, May 19

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.

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 shang@sciteens.org