Why is it important to study economics?

13 July 2020
Stock market price display

Economics plays a role in our everyday life. Studying economics enables us to understand past, future and current models, and apply them to societies, governments, businesses and individuals. 

What is economics?

To understand why the study of economics is important, we first need to understand what economics is. 

Collins English Dictionary defines economics as: “The study of the way in which money, industry, and trade are organised in society.” 

Considered a social science, economics uses scientific methods to understand how scarce resources are exchanged within society. Economists study theories and techniques useful for developing policies in government as they have a deep understanding of how to create efficiency in today’s world. 

American economist Thomas Sowell provides another useful definition: “Economics is the study of cause-and-effect relationships in the economy.”

So, why is economics important? This inquiry into cause-and-effect relationships is key to influencing economic growth. Economists will look at risks and benefits on people, the job market and society as a whole when advising how to allocate resources.

Economic theories

There are many different areas of economics you can study. You can look at these at macroeconomic (large-scale) or microeconomic (individual) levels.

There are four types of economic systems:

  • Traditional economic system
  • Command economic system
  • Market economic system
  • Mixed economic system

Economics in real life

Applied economics is the term used to describe how economic theories can be applied to real-world situations. This looks at everything from costs and benefits to predicted human behaviour to make an informed decision.

Importance of studying economics

So, why do we study economics? Here are five reasons why studying economics is important.

1. Informs decisions

Economists provide information and forecasting to inform decisions within companies and governments. This knowledge of economics – or economic intelligence – is based on data and modelling.

2. Influences everything

Economic issues influence our daily lives. This includes issues such as tax and inflation, interest rates and wealth, inequality and emerging markets, and energy and the environment. A broad subject, economics provides answers to a range of health, social and political issues that impact households and wider communities.

3. Impacts industries

Firms of all sizes and industries have to rely on economics, whether that’s for product research and development, pricing strategies or how to advertise. This wide influence means studying economics can open up a variety of career options across all sectors of the economy, from agriculture to manufacturing, to banking and consultancy. 

4. Inspires business success

Understanding how consumers behave is vital for a business to succeed. Economists use theories and models to predict behaviour and inform business strategies. For example, how to analyse ‘big data’.

5. International perspective 

Economics affects the world we live in. Understanding domestic and international perspectives – historic and current – can provide a useful insight into how different cultures and societies interact. For international corporations, understanding the world economy is key to driving success.

Should I study economics?

An economics course will give you an in-depth understanding of core economic theory and how to apply it to the real business world.

You will also develop a range of transferable skills, such as:

  • communication
  • problem solving
  • research
  • numeracy
  • time management.

Economics is a widely respected field of study and provides an alternative to an Accounting and Finance degree as it offers similar career opportunities for graduates. You could work in job roles within a range of industries, such as:

  • Banking
  • Finance
  • Accountancy
  • Business
  • Government
  • Consultancy

Study Economics at Durham

Durham University International Study Centre provides a specialist pathway programme for international students. After successful completion of the International Foundation Year in Business, Economics, Accounting and Finance, students can progress to study BA (Hons) Economics at Durham University Business School.

Durham University offers a BA (Hons) Economics degree ranked 14th in the UK by the Guardian University League Table, 2020. The subject is also ranked top for graduate employment and further study in the HESA survey (2016/17).

Helen Dey teaches Mathematics at the International Study Centre. She shares what she enjoys about the subject and how its applied to the world around us:

“I love teaching maths, because it's the best subject in the world. I think it unlocks a lot of keys within science. One of my favourite areas is calculus. It explains a lot that goes on in the physical world, as well as economics and business, and science and engineering. Maths is something I want to share with the students and pass on my experience and knowledge.”

Durham ISC student Jad

I chose to study at Durham University because the University’s reputation speaks for itself. The years of success and good accomplishments made me want to go to this University. It’s quite hard to get into Durham, so it’s very challenging for me too. Studying here is going to have a huge impact on their future careers and their future in general.

Jad from Lebanon
Studying International Foundation Year in Business, Economics, Accounting and Finance
Aiming to study BA (Hons) Business and Management

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