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"Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog." -- Adam Smith Adam Smith The Muir portrait.jpg
“Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog.” ― Adam Smith

An economist is a practitioner in the social science discipline of economics.

Economics Social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services

Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.


The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy. Within this field there are many sub-fields, ranging from the broad philosophical theories to the focused study of minutiae within specific markets, macroeconomic analysis, microeconomic analysis or financial statement analysis, involving analytical methods and tools such as econometrics, statistics, economics computational models, financial economics, mathematical finance and mathematical economics.

Economic policy refers to the actions that governments take in the economic field

The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, national ownership, and many other areas of government interventions into the economy.

Philosophy The rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

A theory is a contemplative and rational type of abstract or generalizing thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking often is associated with such processes like observational study, research. Theories may either be scientific or other than scientific. Depending on the context, the results might, for example, include generalized explanations of how nature works. The word has its roots in ancient Greek, but in modern use it has taken on several related meanings.

In academia

The professionalization of economics, reflected in academia, has been described as "the main change in economics since around 1900". [1] Economists debate the path they believe their profession should take. It is, primarily, a debate between a scholastic orientation, focused on mathematical techniques, and a public discourse orientation, which is more focused on communicating to lay people pertinent economic principles as they relate to public policy. Surveys among economists indicate a preference for a shift toward the latter. [2]

Public policy is the principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues, in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. There has recently been a movement for greater use of evidence in guiding policy decisions. Proponents of evidence-based policy argue that high quality scientific evidence, rather than tradition, intuition, or political ideology, should guide policy decisions.

Most major universities have an economics faculty, school or department, where academic degrees are awarded in economics. Getting a PhD in economics takes six years, on average, with a median of 5.3 years. [3]

An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer degrees at various levels, usually including bachelor's, master’s and doctorates, often alongside other academic certificates and professional degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although in some countries there are lower level higher education qualifications that are also titled degrees.

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, established by Sveriges Riksbank in 1968, is a prize awarded to economists each year for outstanding intellectual contributions in the field of economics. The prize winners are announced in October every year. They receive their awards (a prize amount, a gold medal and a diploma) on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death. [4]

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics, is an award for outstanding contributions to the field of economics, and generally regarded as the most prestigious award for that field. The award's official name is The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

Sveriges Riksbank Sweden’s central bank

Sveriges Riksbank or simply the Riksbank, is the central bank of Sweden. It is the world's oldest central bank and the third oldest bank in operation.

Alfred Nobel Swedish chemist, innovator, and armaments manufacturer (1833–1896)

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish businessman, chemist, engineer, inventor, and philanthropist.


Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan testifies before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services Mvc-017x.jpg
Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan testifies before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services

Economists work in many fields including academia, government and in the private sector, where they may also " data and statistics in order to spot trends in economic activity, economic confidence levels, and consumer attitudes. They assess this information using advanced methods in statistical analysis, mathematics, computer programming [and] they make recommendations about ways to improve the efficiency of a system or take advantage of trends as they begin." [5]

In contrast to regulated professions such as engineering, law or medicine, there is not a legally required educational requirement or license for economists. In academia, to be called an economist requires a Ph.D. degree in Economics. In the U.S. Government, on the other hand, a person can be hired as an economist provided that they have a degree that included or was supplemented by 21 semester hours in economics and three hours in statistics, accounting, or calculus. [6]

A professional working inside of one of many fields of economics or having an academic degree in this subject is often considered to be an economist. [7] In addition to government and academia, economists are also employed in banking, finance, accountancy, commerce, marketing, business administration, lobbying and non- or not-for profit organizations. [8]

Politicians often consult economists before enacting economic policy. Many statesmen have academic degrees in economics.[ citation needed ]

By country

Economics graduates are employable in varying degrees depending on the regional economic scenario and labour market conditions at the time for a given country. Apart from the specific understanding of the subject, employers value the skills of numeracy and analysis, the ability to communicate and the capacity to grasp broad issues which the graduates acquire at the university or college. Whilst only a few[ quantify ] economics graduates may be expected to become professional economists,[ citation needed ] many find it a base for entry into a career in finance – including accounting, insurance, tax and banking, or management.[ citation needed ] A number of economics graduates from around the world have been successful in obtaining employment in a variety of major national and international firms in the financial and commercial sectors, and in manufacturing, retailing and IT, as well as in the public sector – for example, in the health and education sectors, or in government and politics. Small numbers[ quantify ][ citation needed ] go on to undertake postgraduate studies, either in economics, research, teacher training or further qualifications in specialist areas.


In Brazil, unlike most countries in the world where the profession is not regulated, the profession of Economist is regulated by Law. 1411 of August 13, 1951. The professional designation of economist, according to the said law, is exclusive to the bachelors in economics graduates in Brazil. [9]

United States

Economist salaries by educational attainment. Economists salary.png
Economist salaries by educational attainment.

According to the United States Department of Labor, there were about 15,000 non-academic economists in the United States in 2008, with a median salary of roughly $83,000 the top ten percent earning more than $147,040 annually. [11] Nearly 135 colleges and universities [12] [ verification needed ] grant around 900 new Ph.D.s every year. Incomes are highest for those in the private sector, followed by the federal government, with academia paying the lowest incomes. As of January 2013, showed Ph.D. economists' salary ranges as follows: all Ph.D. economists, $61,000 to $160,000; Ph.D. corporate economists, $71,000 to $207,000; economics full professors, $89,000 to $137,000; economics associate professors, $59,000 to $156,000, and economics assistant professors, $72,000 to $100,000. [10]

United Kingdom

The largest single professional grouping of economists in the UK are the more than 1000 members of the Government Economic Service, who work in 30 government departments and agencies.[ citation needed ]

Analysis of destination surveys for economics graduates from a number of selected top schools of economics in the United Kingdom (ranging from Newcastle University to the London School of Economics), shows nearly 80 percent in employment six months after graduation – with a wide range of roles and employers, including regional, national and international organisations, across many sectors.[ citation needed ] This figure compares very favourably with the national picture, with 64 percent of economics graduates in employment.[ citation needed ]

Notable economists

Some current well-known economists include:

See also

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  4. "The Nobel Prize". Nobel Web AB. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  5. Economist
  6. "Economist Series, 0110: U.S. Office of Personnel Management".
  7. "Economists : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics". Retrieved 2017-02-02.
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Wiktionary-logo-en-v2.svg The dictionary definition of economist at Wiktionary