Thursday, June 05, 2008

Why Major in Economics?

Bryan Caplan sums it up:
Econ is the highest-paid of all the easy majors. My students often howl in protest when I say this, but come on: Econ does not put the crimp on your social life that CS or Engineering do. It's not even close.
As a former engineer turned economist, I'd certainly agree with this.

Jeff Miron gives a more detailed explanation of the benefits of studying economics. Here are a couple of things he wrote that stood out to me:
... economics is a practical and marketable degree. Many economics graduates land starting salaries in six figures. Economics is good training for business school, law school, or a career in public policy. With the growth of health economics as a field, even some pre-meds sensibly consider our department. The list of successful people with economics backgrounds spans many walks of life: Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Diane von Furstenberg, Warren Buffet, Donald Trump, Kofi Annan, Sandra Day O’Connor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman—even Gene Kelly, Mick Jagger, and Tiger Woods!

... students find economics interesting and useful for answering fundamental and important questions. What are the constraints on human behavior and happiness, and how can people attain their goals in the face of these constraints? When do private actions lead to widely beneficial outcomes, and when might government improve on these outcomes?
I didn't "discover" economics until a month or so before starting my MBA and never had a class in it as an undergrad. I wish I had somehow stumbled across it at an earlier point in life. More than just about anything else I've studied, economics radically changed the way I look at the world.

Unless you plan on majoring in engineering, I'd recommend economics as a great choice of a major to almost anyone. It's a great preparation for a wide range of graduate programs, provides you with a mental toolkit for analyzing a whole host of real world problems, gets you thinking about the world around you, makes the news a lot more interesting, and is one of the highest paying undergraduate majors. Not only that, but economics can be quite fun and just might make you happier too!

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