Why Study Economics?

Picture link to TikTok video about Highest Paying Business Major
Highest Paying Business Major

All economists study how individuals and societies meet unlimited wants with limited means. This is why economics is often called the science of scarcity.  Beyond that, economists study a wide range of questions. Below is a partial list of specializations and some common research questions that economists seek to answer within each:


  • Could a bubble in housing markets threaten the stability of the global economy?
  • How does the Federal Reserve shape the economy?

Development Economics

  • Does food aid help or hurt poor countries?
  • Does inequality threaten global political stability?
  • Can China continue to grow their economy without democracy?

Environmental Economics

  • Did the spotted owl and the Endangered Species Act cause the decline in the forestry in the Pacific Northwest?
  • Should Washington State enact a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? If so, what is the best policy?

Labor Economics

  • Is getting a college degree a wise investment?
  • Why does the gender pay gap persist?

Health Economics

  • Will the Affordable Care Act increase unemployment?
  • What are the costs to society of obesity?

Behavioral Economics

  • Why don’t people save enough for retirement?
  • Why are people who are more knowledgeable about sports less confident in their ability to pick who will win the game?

The Economics of Agriculture

  • How big will farms be 10, 20, or 30 years from now?
  • Does a labor shortage threaten Washington’s tree fruit industry?
  • Will climate change cause a global food shortage and famine?

Economics is a great degree for getting a job after college. According to The Economic Value of College Majors (pdf) published by Georgetown University, “Economics” and “Business Economics are two of the top 25 ranked best majors by wages (Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah and Andrew R. Hanson 2015, p. 19 (pdf)).
Find out how much your college major is worth using this interactive tool courtesy of Georgetown University. College Major Earnings Tool

Here are some of the places WSU students with degrees in economics have gotten jobs.

  • Amazon
  • Northwest Farm Credit Services
  • Dowe
  • New York Yankees
  • Boeing
  • Congressional Budget Office

Another great way to discover the fascinating topics covered in economics is to read one of the many best-selling books written by economists in recent years.

  • Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
  • Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, Charles Wheelan and Burton Malkiel
  • The Undercover Economist, Tim Harford
  • Moneyball, Michael Lewis
  • Freakonomics, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt

If you require an alternative format for any of the content provided on this webpage, please email: Tom Dahl or call 509-335-5556.