Understanding Economics

What Is Economics?

Economics is a social science concerned with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. It studies how individuals, businesses, governments, and nations make choices on allocating resources to satisfy their wants and needs, trying to determine how these groups should organize and coordinate efforts to achieve maximum output.

Economics can generally be broken down into macroeconomics, which concentrates on the behavior of the aggregate economy, and microeconomics, which focuses on individual consumers and businesses.

  • Economics is the study of how people allocate scarce resources for production, distribution, and consumption, both individually and collectively.
  • Two major types of economics are microeconomics, which focuses on the behavior of individual consumers and producers, and macroeconomics, which examine overall economies on a regional, national, or international scale.
  • Economics is especially concerned with efficiency in production and exchange and uses models and assumptions to understand how to create incentives and policies that will maximize efficiency.
  • Economists formulate and publish numerous economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Capitalism, socialism, and communism are types of economic systems.

The study of economics is generally broken down into two disciplines.

  • Microeconomics focuses on how individual consumers and firm make decisions; these individuals can be a single person, a household, a business/organization or a government agency. Analyzing certain aspects of human behavior, microeconomics tries to explain they respond to changes in price and why they demand what they do at particular price levels. Microeconomics tries to explain how and why different goods are valued differently, how individuals make financial decisions, and how individuals best trade, coordinate and cooperate with one another. Microeconomics’ topics range from the dynamics of supply and demand to the efficiency and costs associated with producing goods and services; they also include how labor is divided and allocated, uncertainty, risk, and strategic game theory.
  • Macroeconomics studies an overall economy on both a national and international level. Its focus can include a distinct geographical region, a country, a continent, or even the whole world. Topics studied include foreign trade, government fiscal and monetary policy, unemployment rates, the level of inflation and interest rates, the growth of total production output as reflected by changes in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and business cycles that result in expansions, booms, recessions, and depressions.

Micro- and macroeconomics are intertwined; as economists gain an understanding of certain phenomena, they can help us make more informed decisions when allocating resources. Many believe that microeconomics’ foundations of individuals and firms acting in aggregate constitute macroeconomic phenomena.

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