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    Just pondering about this now. What do you guys who are currently doing economics at uni or have completed a degree in it think about this?

    Most of the stuff is interesting, but I can't help but feel that for alot of it (espicially the diagrams), it is simply a case of learning to pass exams, and then there will be no practical use for your knowledge.

    This is unless you become an economist of courrse, but realistically a) the job market for economists is tiny, and b) at the end of the day, the accuracy of knowledge in economics is to a large extent, dependent on luck and also very questionable - due to the almost infinite number of possible factors in a given issue.

    I'm not deliberatly trying to put down this subject as I am applying for it. However, theres this fear inside me that despite it being interesting, alot of what I learn will have no practical use in real-life and that I could've just read up about economics in my spare time as a hobby, rather than spend a 3 year course on it.
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    Of course. But it would be pretty intense to have an accurate model of life, no?

    The first big lesson one should learn in economics is that assumptions are your friend. And the only reason you would write a paper and unnecessarily complicate your theory is to disguise the fact that it is kind of a **** theory really.
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    It's not about application to real life, but the wide variety of skills you gain by doing it. Sure the theories don't tend to hold, but you learn a lot about using mathematical models and writing decent essays in learning about them.
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    I think the models are applicable to real life, as long as you treat them with the rider that you are making a 'best guess' and have not discovered 'the truth'. Most models factor in elements of randomness in any case.

    As with many things in economics "a little knowledge is dangerous". You get to grips with the simple models in 1st and 2nd year and then spend 3rd year or if you go onto an MSc, learning that what you learned in 1st/2nd year wasn't quite the true story....it was just taught like that so you understood it. However you sometimes see 1st year economics students who are very cocky and sure of themselves who think they know it all, and use their simplified model knowledge to criticise the economic policies of people at the top of the profession. On TSR you get 1st years saying guys like Paul Krugman are 'economically illiterate' lolwut, it's the economics equivalent of the fat geezer on the terraces who says Arsene Wenger has 'lost the plot'

    Economics is a shifting science, the way it has been taught changes a lot, one of my old professors who did PPE at Oxford in the early 1970s had a very different experience then being taught out of the old Samuelson book, the Phillips Curve was not expectations-augmented, they didn't do that much maths. The curriculum for modern economics has basically been deemed by the dominant educational figures of the day, Varian, Mankiw, Perloff and Blanchard. Research papers have got very mathematical containing digressions where they go off into proofs of their models, so you think this looks pretty good, then when they get back into the written prose they tell you in detail why actually the model doesn't work that well in real life. I reckon the next shift will be towards more behavioural economics, the US is already starting to go that way so in maybe 10 years time I predict a bit less of the maths and more psychology. But for most students, learning the mathematical techniques is a good life skill so I would recommend it.
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    If you wanna see some real life applications, check out "Freakonomics" by Steven D.Levitt & Stephen J.Dubner, my economics teacher reccomended it and its awsome.

    The guy's explaination of what economics and its application is it shows how "people get what they want" which to a degree is true, which is where you apply the different principles.

    But I think the best thing about an economics degree is the skills you get from it, both literate and numerate which at the end of the day is what employers want. You get the "economists toolkit" at the end of it lol
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    (Original post by mattdst)
    If you wanna see some real life applications, check out "Freakonomics" by Steven D.Levitt & Stephen J.Dubner, my economics teacher reccomended it and its awsome.
    lol no. It's a fun read but its applications are incredibly dubious to say the least.
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    Your job is not to predict the future with 100% certainty or to model life perfectly. An economics gives you the tools to work effectively within a specified framework. It was only last week that I used my analytically abilities (gained from economics) in an interview with two employers. Both were very impressed in the way I analysed the situation and then evaluated the effects. In particular it was my macro that helped but I brought in my micro understanding of firms towards the end.

    As my macro lecturer continues to tell us. 'our models are very simple' 'we are just trying to tell an accurate story with the tools we have'
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    (Original post by alex_hk90)
    lol no. It's a fun read but its applications are incredibly dubious to say the least.
    Yeah, but just an example of how you can use what you know to explore some pretty "real life" topics, which aren't all obvious at first.

    I think what the book illustrated was is that what you learn can answer what you want, so long as you have the right question, just used as a fun example to answer OP
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    In the later years of an economics degree you will be taking courses in more specific fields like Industry, Welfare, Health, Labour economics which you will find a lot more applicable to 'real life' (and a lot more interesting imo). The theory of the firm will be a lot more practical than Bob and Andy swapping apples for oranges.
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    (Original post by mattdst)
    Yeah, but just an example of how you can use what you know to explore some pretty "real life" topics, which aren't all obvious at first.

    I think what the book illustrated was is that what you learn can answer what you want, so long as you have the right question, just used as a fun example to answer OP
    Come again?
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    (Original post by W.H.T)
    However, theres this fear inside me that despite it being interesting, alot of what I learn will have no practical use in real-life and that I could've just read up about economics in my spare time as a hobby, rather than spend a 3 year course on it.
    I could just spend my time reading maths textbooks rather than spend a 3 year course on it. I could just spend my time being a freelance fashion designer instead of spending 3 years at uni. I could read law or politics in my spare time as a hobby.

    It's about the skills you learn which you can apply in your job. I find that economics really exercises thinking of secondary or even tertiary effects, and possibilities which might not be so obvious at first. It's more natural to people studying economics than perhaps someone studying electrical engineering.

    Also, while I'm not a uni student, do you really not apply your knowledge of Economics to your every day life? Maybe it's just me who likes to think about things and question why something is this way and can sometimes somehow relate it back to what I learnt in the classroom.
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    (Original post by mattdst)
    If you wanna see some real life applications, check out "Freakonomics" by Steven D.Levitt & Stephen J.Dubner, my economics teacher reccomended it and its awsome.

    The guy's explaination of what economics and its application is it shows how "people get what they want" which to a degree is true, which is where you apply the different principles.

    But I think the best thing about an economics degree is the skills you get from it, both literate and numerate which at the end of the day is what employers want. You get the "economists toolkit" at the end of it lol
    Yeah I flicked through that before as well as a few other 'pop' economics books. The thing I don't like, is how often, economics is almost trivialised by authors who to try to make it sound like it answers everything in life. I'm really not appealed by applications to things such as dating, drug dealers, sumo-wrestlers and so on.
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    (Original post by Chelle-belle)
    I could just spend my time reading maths textbooks rather than spend a 3 year course on it. I could just spend my time being a freelance fashion designer instead of spending 3 years at uni. I could read law or politics in my spare time as a hobby.

    It's about the skills you learn which you can apply in your job. I find that economics really exercises thinking of secondary or even tertiary effects, and possibilities which might not be so obvious at first. It's more natural to people studying economics than perhaps someone studying electrical engineering.

    Also, while I'm not a uni student, do you really not apply your knowledge of Economics to your every day life? Maybe it's just me who likes to think about things and question why something is this way and can sometimes somehow relate it back to what I learnt in the classroom.
    Yeah I do that sometimes, but most of the time, the answers to situations to every day life is kinda common-sense. For example consider the release of the latest video game 'Call of Duty: Black Ops'. Some major retailers were massively undercutting their prices on the first day of sales. How can they do this? Economies of scale = able to buy and store in bulk, hence lower average cost per unit. As I've said, pretty common sense stuff, you don't have to have studied economics at any level to be able to make that simple assessment, although you may not be able to come up with the fancy phrase 'economies of scales', but thats irrelevant.

    So you may argue, well my example was very simple wasn't it, therefore its the equivalent of the question: 'whats 1+1' in maths, which is also very common sense stuff. But, with economics, as soon as you attempt to answer more complicated and higher level questions, there would be a significant chance that your answer is inaccurate or just downright wrong, and this is true even if you had the best economics brain in the world.
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    I think the models are applicable to real life, as long as you treat them with the rider that you are making a 'best guess' and have not discovered 'the truth'. Most models factor in elements of randomness in any case.

    As with many things in economics "a little knowledge is dangerous". You get to grips with the simple models in 1st and 2nd year and then spend 3rd year or if you go onto an MSc, learning that what you learned in 1st/2nd year wasn't quite the true story....it was just taught like that so you understood it. However you sometimes see 1st year economics students who are very cocky and sure of themselves who think they know it all, and use their simplified model knowledge to criticise the economic policies of people at the top of the profession. On TSR you get 1st years saying guys like Paul Krugman are 'economically illiterate' lolwut, it's the economics equivalent of the fat geezer on the terraces who says Arsene Wenger has 'lost the plot'

    Economics is a shifting science, the way it has been taught changes a lot, one of my old professors who did PPE at Oxford in the early 1970s had a very different experience then being taught out of the old Samuelson book, the Phillips Curve was not expectations-augmented, they didn't do that much maths. The curriculum for modern economics has basically been deemed by the dominant educational figures of the day, Varian, Mankiw, Perloff and Blanchard. Research papers have got very mathematical containing digressions where they go off into proofs of their models, so you think this looks pretty good, then when they get back into the written prose they tell you in detail why actually the model doesn't work that well in real life. I reckon the next shift will be towards more behavioural economics, the US is already starting to go that way so in maybe 10 years time I predict a bit less of the maths and more psychology. But for most students, learning the mathematical techniques is a good life skill so I would recommend it.
    This is what I'm worried about, that my studies in all those highly mathematical concepts and graphs would be meaningless. Sure, skills would be gained, but gained with useless knowledge. I can also see this affecting my motivation because its natural that you learn better if you have a goal, and for me, usually that goal isn't a literal goal, but a goal which I know at the end, theres a practical use for my knowledge, regardless of whether I choose a career which utilizes it or not.
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    Tbh I've thought about it too. I don't get why economics is such a competitive course to get into..

    (Original post by W.H.T)
    This is what I'm worried about, that my studies in all those highly mathematical concepts and graphs would be meaningless. Sure, skills would be gained, but gained with useless knowledge. I can also see this affecting my motivation because its natural that you learn better if you have a goal, and for me, usually that goal isn't a literal goal, but a goal which I know at the end, theres a practical use for my knowledge, regardless of whether I choose a career which utilizes it or not.
    But that can be said about most subjects, except may be medicine or law. Or engineering.
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    The same thing can be said about maths. All those fancy mathematical models the finance guys had in the city and no one understood them and they ****ed it up.

    Your mind seems set anyway. People have posted their opinions, and you spent 3 posts challenging their opinions. If you have this much doubt, then go do maths, the 'purest' of them all (not trying to belittle it, I personally love maths, and do think its the purest subject). Or at least don't do economics.
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    (Original post by asdfg0987)
    Tbh I've thought about it too. I don't get why economics is such a competitive course to get into..



    But that can be said about most subjects, except may be medicine or law. Or engineering.

    I think its so competitive because loads of money-driven people have the perception that an economics degree guarantees a well paid job a city investment bank.

    On your second point, I agree that the same could be said to many other subjects - but not most. Physical sciences, Law, Medicine, all sorts of Engineering, Computer science, Languages and Architecure make up roughly a third of all courses, and what I've said before certainly don't apply to them. Arts subject such as English, graphics design and Fine Art have an entirely different purpose in that knowledge isn't gained, but rather the technique in expressing ideas and feelings is learnt.

    However, what I've said could be applied to humanities and social sciences which are a large bunch, and Economics is one of them. The difference between Economics and other social sciences, is its frequent usage of mathematical techniques and concepts to answer questions and to model situations (such as those lovely diagrams ), even though there they are fundermentally flawed given the nature of human behavior and infinite number of factors influencing them.

    Like I've said, I can see it being a problem to motivate myself to learn all maths in economics (and there are alot of it) and knowing that in practical terms, that their usefulness is always at the mercy of pure luck.
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    (Original post by danny111)
    The same thing can be said about maths. All those fancy mathematical models the finance guys had in the city and no one understood them and they ****ed it up.

    Your mind seems set anyway. People have posted their opinions, and you spent 3 posts challenging their opinions. If you have this much doubt, then go do maths, the 'purest' of them all (not trying to belittle it, I personally love maths, and do think its the purest subject). Or at least don't do economics.
    That's one of things which discussions involve, right?

    Also, you're right, maths can be put to uses in volatile situations, in which cases, attempts to model them are always going to be deeply flawed. But this goes back to my orginal point, it is the subject of Economics which deploys this use.
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    (Original post by W.H.T)
    That's one of things which discussions involve, right?
    .
    But my point was you asked if it is too theoretical. People said what they thought. And you basically conclude it is too theoretical. Are you waiting for someone to convince you it's not?

    Don't do economics.

    If you wanna do something that has an ultimate practical tool do architecture or engineering. Not even law or medicine as those aren't accurate. Practical in a sense but not accurate.
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    If you like maths but are concerned that economics is a social rather than physical science, and therefore you will have to factor in large elements of unpredictability, then you are better doing stuff like Engineering/Computer Science etc.

    Most economics students are basically social science students who are a bit more mathematically competent, ie the type of student who would do politics or sociology but is decent at maths rather than just being an essay writer. Then you get some economics students (usually from overseas in my experience) who are mathematical and think in very logical terms, but struggle with essays and don't tend to 'think outside the box' much so they don't like questions which aren't phrased in terms of a mathematical problem.

    I reckon the first group of students is better suited to economics than the second. The first group sometimes finds the maths frustrating and difficult to understand, but the second group ends up finding the whole subject frustrating.
 
 
 
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