Economics (UK English: /kəˈnɒmɪks/, /ɛkəˈnɒmɪks/;[1] US English: /ɛkəˈnɑːmɪks/, /ikəˈnɑːmɪks/[2][3] is "a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services" according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.[2] The discipline was renamed in the late 19th century primarily due to Alfred Marshall from "political economy" to "economics" as a shorter term for "economic science" at a time when it became more open to rigorous thinking and made increased use of mathematics, which helped support efforts to have it accepted as a science and as a separate discipline outside of political science and other social sciences.[4][5][6][7]

Economics focuses on the behaviour and interactions of economic agents and how economies work. Consistent with this focus, textbooks often distinguish between microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics examines the behaviour of basic elements in the economy, including individual agents and markets, their interactions, and the outcomes of interactions. Individual agents may include, for example, households, firms, buyers, and sellers. Macroeconomics analyzes the entire economy (meaning aggregated production, consumption, savings, and investment) and issues affecting it, including unemployment of resources (labour, capital, and land), inflation, economic growth, and the public policies that address these issues (monetary, fiscal, and other policies).

Other broad distinctions within economics include those between positive economics, describing "what is", and normative economics, advocating "what ought to be"; between economic theory and applied economics; between rational and behavioural economics; and between mainstream economics and heterodox economics.[8]

Economic analysis can be applied throughout society, as in business, finance, health care, and government. Economic analyses may also be applied to such diverse subjects as crime,[9] education,[10] the family, law, politics, religion,[11] social institutions, war,[12] science,[13] and the environment.[14] Education, for example, requires time, effort, and expenses, plus the foregone income and experience, yet these losses can be weighted against future benefits education may bring to the agent or the economy. At the turn of the 21st century, the expanding domain of economics in the social sciences has been described as economic imperialism.[15] The ultimate goal of economics is to improve the living conditions of people in their everyday life.[16]

Countries by Real GDP Growth Rate (2014)

Countries by real GDP growth rate in 2014. Countries in red were in recession.


  1. Oxford Living Dictionaries
  2. 2.0 2.1
  3. "economics". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. 21st Century Economics: A Reference Handbook, Volume 1, edited by Rhona C. Free, p.8
  5. Marshall, Alfred, and Mary Paley Marshall (1879). The Economics of Industry, Macmillan, p. 2.
             • Jevons, W. Stanley (1879). The Theory of Political Economy, 2nd ed., Macmillan. p. xiv.
  6. So the term economics is derived from economic science, and the word economic is perhaps shortened from economical or derived from the French word économique or directly from the Latin word oeconomicus "of domestic economy". This in turn comes from the Ancient Greek οικονομικός (oikonomikos), "practiced in the management of a household or family" and therefore "frugal, thrifty", which in turn comes from οἰκονομία (oikonomia) "household management" which in turn comes from οἶκος (oikos "house") and νόμος (nomos, "custom" or "law"). The English pronunciation was influenced by the pronunciation i of the digraph οι in Modern Greek.
  7. Harper, Douglas (February 2007). "Online Etymology Dictionary – Economy". Retrieved October 27, 2007. 
  8. Andrew Caplin and Andrew Schotter, The Foundations of Positive and Normative Economics, Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN 0-19-532831-0
  9. Friedman, David D. (2002). "Crime," The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.'.' Retrieved October 21, 2007.
  10. The World Bank (2007). "Economics of Education.". Retrieved October 21, 2007.
  11. Iannaccone, Laurence R. (1998). "Introduction to the Economics of Religion", Journal of Economic Literature, 36(3), pp. 1465–1495.
  12. Nordhaus, William D. (2002). "The Economic Consequences of a War with Iraq", in War with Iraq: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives, pp. 51–85. Template:Webarchive American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Retrieved October 21, 2007.
  13. Arthur M. Diamond, Jr. (2008). "science, economics of", The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Pre-publication cached ccpy.]
  14. "Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication". United Nations Environment Programme. 2011. ISBN 978-92-807-3143-9. Retrieved 2015-05-10. 
  15. Lazear, Edward P. (2000|. "Economic Imperialism", Quarterly Journal Economics, 115(1)|, p. 99–146. Cached copy. Pre-publication copy(larger print.)
       • Becker, Gary S. (1976). The Economic Approach to Human Behavior. Links to arrow-page viewable chapter. University of Chicago Press.
  16. By Paul Samuelson : Economics