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Economics is a social science that involves studying the way in which people make choices about allocation of scarce resources (Wessels, 2006). Scarce resources may include land, equipment, time, energy and the knowledge needed to transform them into productive and useful end products and services. The principle guiding economists is sustainable utilization of resources so that the most can be gotten out the limited resources. Therefore at the core of economics as a discipline is the recognition that costs must be kept low and production maximized using the same quantity of resources (Wessels, 2006). This is very important given the fact that resources are always limited and must thus be utilized sustainably and maximally to enhance productivity.
Economics is an important social science that has grown in terms of relevance and importance in the 21st century. Free (2010) cited that this is a universal fact across the developed and developing countries. Therefore there is a myriad of reasons why studying economics in the 21st century is a very important undertaking. These range from personal, political and economic reasons. This paper thus seeks to discuss the reasons why it is important for one to study economics in the 21st century. However, the focus will be more towards the personal justifications since whether political, educational, economic or otherwise, economics remains a very relevant and essential discipline for every individual.
Economics is Simply Interesting
While it is worth conceding that not everyone likes economics, it is important to also look at the other side of the coin. Economics is an interesting discipline to study. The economic theories of this discipline give it the strength that makes it different from other disciplines that, as a result of weak theoretical background, have been rendered more descriptive than practical.
Besides, a keen look at every newspaper will show just how economics is closely linked to the events in the real world surrounding humanity (Free, 2010). Therefore, in order to fully understand our environment and the forces controlling human life, studying economics is an important undertaking. For example, in order to determine how many pairs of jeans trousers should be produced to satisfy the entire society, the knowledge of the principles of economics such as demand and supply is essential. This illustrates just how practical and interesting it is to study economics as a discipline in the 21st century.
Economics Impacts Everyone’s Life
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Economics is a social science that is at the heart of decision making process. Decision making is a process that every individual goes through almost on a daily basis (Wessels, 2006). Before one embarks on the day’s activities, one must work with a timeframe. For example, one will have to decide how much time he/she is going to be in the farm, or for how long he/she is going to keep the cereals store open for buyers to purchase cereals. This may also include determining and deciding, well in advance the price at which one is willing to sell his/her products (Wessels, 2006).
A student has to make a decision about the amount of time she/he is willing to spend in the college tennis game activities, reading in the library or what to buy or forego at the beginning of the semester. The student has to, for example decide what menu she/he can afford with the little money remaining so that the limited money can take him or her throughout the academic calendar. All these decisions are informed by the understanding of the principles of economics.
Individuals, governments, businesses, households are all affected by the decisions that are made regarding allocation of resources. Thus, understanding the principles of economics, the significance and relevance of this is quite important to an individual. Wessels (2006) contends that a person who studies economics will be able to understand why the decisions that directly affect their consumption patterns and access to resources were made the way they were made. Without the understanding of the forces behind the decision making processes regarding allocation of the resources at the household level for example, one may become ignorantly vulnerable to the outcomes of the decisions made by the stewards of the resources.
Economics remains an Intellectual Discipline that Develops a Valuable Set of Skills
Economics is a discipline that is embedded on critical, analytical and insightful thinking. Therefore, a student who studies economics in the 21st century becomes well prepared and molded in terms of his/her way of thinking. It makes one to be broadly aware of how the world works. As a discipline offered in most institutions of learning in the 21st century, economics enables one to develop analytical skills that are nurtured through studying of the subjects such as methods of analysis (Free, 2010).
The approaches and principles that economists apply in the construction of models, analysis of arguments and the process of testing empirical predictions against existing evidence help one to develop various important skills that are essential in the 21stcentury (Free, 2010).This implies that studying economics as a discipline in the 1st century equips a graduate with general literacy, communication and numeracy skills, logical and rational deductive, and critical skills that are transferrable in any development and corporate sector in the 21st century.
Studying economics is a great opportunity for one to acquire insights into the general process and environment of allocation of the ever-scarce resources. Free (2010) cited that a student with knowledge of economics is well prepared to understand the implications and dynamics of opportunity costs and evaluation of projects that are important in various areas. Human economic interaction and production process of wealth under the systematic process of division of labor thus becomes comprehensive to an individual. Therefore, the discipline of economics is valued in the 21st century because of the valuable sets of skills that it instills into an individual (Free, 2010).
Economics is an intellectually exciting field of study. For example, the discussions on topics such as socialism as compared to capitalism are often very exciting to explore (Free, 2010). Subjects such as management of inflation, the development of underdevelopment of poor countries, social security, energy regulation policies, global warming and climate change mitigation approaches and related policies are key areas worth studying. These are some of the key issues that governments and policy makers and administrators continue to grapple with in the 21st century. It is thus very important for governments and administrators to invest more in the training and capacity building of economists in the 21st century to amicably solve the challenges in the present age (Free, 2010).
Studying Economics is a Good Basis for getting a Job
There are so many career opportunities in the 21st century that opens up for an individual with a good training in economics. This is because of the diverse skills that one acquires through training in this discipline. The skills that one acquires from graduate training in economics are very transferrable (Wessels, 2006). This gives an economics graduate an advantage over other graduates in terms of access to a wide variety of job opportunities. Free (2010) contends that in the current century, transferability of skills and flexibility that the training in the field of economics offers coupled with strong personal characteristics is more important than any special training in a vocational field. This is particularly because employers in the 21st century are very keen on hiring graduates with strong analytical and problem solving skills. These are the prime focus and emphasis in the training of an economist.
The fields where economists work are various. These include, law firms where they make economic-legal policies, major commercial and even industrial companies, reserve banks, treasury, government ministry of foreign affairs and trade, ministry of commerce, economic research and consultancy firms, local government and planning authorities, universities and other educational institutions, just to mention a few of the career outlets for graduates with a good background training in economics (Free, 2010). Besides, there is general consensus that most of the jobs secured by people with a strong background and training in economics are often very highly paying careers.
According to the studies that have been conducted, it is evident that the transferability of the skills that economists have has given them an upper hand in employment. In fact most studies have revealed that most economists are able to work in almost all the corporate sectors. They easily suit positions where business graduates work, marketing, sociologists, actuarial scientists and political science graduates. Therefore, a strong training in economics in the 21st century gives an individual a strong background for securing a well-paying job at the end of the training period. The discipline is widely flexible in terms of career prospects which are the focus of anyone who pursues education for professional purposes in this century.
Studying Economics makes one Understand Unintended Consequences
Strong background training in the field of economics enables an individual to understand the impending consequences of some government policy formulations and implementations. For example, when the government, through the ministry of finance, increases taxation on tobacco and related products, such decision tickles down to increased consumer prices. The same applies to a waiver in taxation on consumer products like sugar which leads to reduced consumer prices. These are economic principles that the government applies to manipulate consumption of certain products.
Taxation decisions by the government greatly impacts the consumer behavior within the specific economy. But economists are able to understand these principles and analytically interpret and predict the fluctuations in the consumer behavior in the market in relation to a particular product. This knowledge is very important and essential for one to make important consumption decisions for the household, personal financial management and corporate management decision making systems and processes (Wessels, 2006).
Economics is a Fast-growing Field
Economics is a field that is fast growing. The realization of the Millennium Development Goals for both the developed and the developing countries is increasingly becoming clearer due to the active role played by the planning skills of the economists across the globe. Economics has evolved to become a dynamic field which is constantly expanding in terms of its scope and focus. For example, as new phenomena encroach into the public sphere and the economic pillars of the society, economics has also evolved to focus on these unfolding realities (Wessels, 2006).
The application of economics in the analysis and understanding of politics, law and economics, bio-economics are all illustrations of how the field of economics has grown in the 21st century to focus on the latest development in the human society. This has empowered economics as a social science concerned with human behavior patterns and interactions.
Understanding new Phenomena in the 21st Century
As new phenomena unfold in the 21st century, economists are better placed to decipher them and develop theories explaining the issues. For example, the recent financial meltdown that affected the entire global economy can only be understood and explained by economists (Wessels, 2006). The causes of this recession and how it got connected to the entire world economy is a mystery that only the economists can be able to explain to the layman. Besides, understanding of such crises by economists implies that they are better placed to advance mitigation policies to prevent such occurrences from recurring by advising the government.
With the economic integration and the benefits that this process reaps to the countries involved, the costs and consequences are diverse. The implication of economic integration of the developing countries into the global economy has had mixed consequences on the growth of the economies of such countries. In order to benefit from economic integration, such countries need the counsel of economists. This illustrates the important role that economists play in the 21st century especially with the onset of globalization in this age and its consequences and implications on domestic economies of most countries.
The 21st century has ushered in new developments and challenges. Among these challenges is the soaring population, climate change, food insecurity, unemployment among other socioeconomic challenges. In order to address these issues effectively, the input of economists is very essential. It is the economists for example, who are better placed to explain why even with the efforts of governments to eliminate or at least mitigate these catastrophes, they have still persisted (Free, 2010). The analytical, problem solving and planning skills of the economists is thus needed in the 21st century to enable governments and welfare agencies to effectively and professionally respond to the challenges facing humanity in this century.
Great Prospects for Graduate Education
The motivation of any student to undertake a study of any discipline is because of the opportunities that the discipline may present for further professional and career development (Wessels, 2006). Economics offers great opportunities for one to advance his/her education. For example, there are several institutions where postgraduate opportunities for specializing in various options in economics are offered. Most of these institutions also offer scholarships for those individuals who would wish to pursue economics to such higher heights. This is a great opportunity that most disciplines are lacking. Besides, it illustrates further the fact that economics is very relevant and greatly needed in the corporate world.
So admirable and valuable is the specialized training in the field of economics that those who have pursued this discipline to doctoral levels are considered great scholars and consultants in the development and policy issues. Such specialists are consulted not only for the development of the local economy but also the stabilization and development of the global economy. Economists are thus reputed and honored for their input in directing states and economic stakeholders on the key issues that are affecting a struggling economy.
The relevance and importance of economics in the 21st century cannot be overemphasized in any discussion. Economics remains very relevant especially in this era where various catastrophes are affecting the world. Besides, the globalization of the economy has had great implications on states that are struggling to develop and realize sustainable levels of growth. For these to be realized, the government and development agencies and stakeholders must invest in the training of economists.
From providing expertise counsel to planners, economics is important because it touches on every aspect and area that affects humanity. Therefore as a discipline, economics is very important and worth studying in this century. Its importance is not about to fade in the near future but will become more relevant since it is a fast growing field. This discipline holds the prospect to development that every country is seeking. Given chance I would therefore appeal for increased investment in the training of economists in the 21st century.