Why study in Economics?
Among the phenomena that influence our society, those related to the economy attract much attention. Unemployment, inflation, interest rates, exchange rates, jobs, productivity, investment are terms encountered daily in the media. It is not always easy to unravel the mass of information which is conveyed.
Economics is the discipline that seeks to understand such phenomena and analyze the relationships between them. More precisely, economics examines how a country's resources are used to fulfill the needs of its citizens. It is concerned with the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.
Economics is divided into two interrelated branches. Macroeconomics deals with the economy as a whole and examines the factors that determine the production, employment and price levels in a country. Microeconomics deals with the behaviour of individual economic agents and studies, among other things, how prices are determined in a given market.
Where does economics stand relative to other disciplines?
The areas investigated by economists are diverse and connected to those of other disciplines. This is normal; given the complexity of the world in which we live, it is often useful to consider problems from different points of view.
Because economics is a social science, it is closely related to such disciplines as sociology and political science. Like those disciplines, economics aims at understanding the behaviour of men and women living in a society. What makes economics different from the other social sciences is its emphasis on those aspects of behaviour that are quantifiable. The phenomena mentioned above (unemployment, inflation, etc.) can all be quantified. For that reason, economics makes more use of mathematical formalization and statistical analysis than other social sciences.
Economics is also related to business administration. Like the latter, it analyses the workings of markets for goods and different types of services such as financial markets. However, while business administration is concerned with markets from the point of view of the administrator of a business, economics studies these market from the point of view of society as a whole. For this reason, economists play a useful role in advising and guiding public policy makers.
The programs offered at the University of Ottawa are flexible enough to allow students to take courses in various related disciplines.