What is Economics, Exactly?

Lynne Kiesling

I talk to a lot of different folks with different backgrounds in economics. Perhaps it’s because of the specific and arcane nature of “utility economics”, but many of the folks I meet think of economics as being very focused on forecasting, financial analysis, and quantitative estimates of various investments, rate/tariff policies, etc.

Frankly, this narrow construction of economics always makes me uncomfortable. Yes, these ideas are all part of economics, and important, but they do tend to overlook the very crucial extent to which economics is the study of human action construed more generally.

For that reason, I wanted to draw specific attention to the quote that Alex and Tyler are going to use as the epigraph in their new textbook:

Economics is the study of how to get the most out of life.


8 thoughts on “What is Economics, Exactly?

  1. Epigrammatic definitions of economics are always too short.

    Fortunately (or not), economists are frequently willing to explain them at length.

  2. Many years ago as a new employee debating a point on economics with one of the more senior staff, I refuted his assertion that economic was the study of money, but replying that economics was concerned with maximizing satisfaction. This argument was beyond his comprehension. I fully endorse Alex’s and Tyler’s epigraph.

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