Message Department Head
Welcome to our website and to your exciting career in economics. If you have, or develop, a passion for economics, you are going to love your journey through the discipline. It will be exciting to see yourself acquire new skills that will enable you to better understand current affairs and to make meaningful contributions to important, real-world issues.
Economics will provide you the capacity to both analyze and contribute a more evidence-based input into such diverse and multifaceted issues as:
- defining the appropriate incentives for combating climate change(e.g., is a carbon tax better than cap-and-trade or should we simply prohibit the development and use of fossil fuels);
- determining whether, and in which contexts, regulations, standards, fines or the legal system is the preferred mechanism for mitigating pollution and other externalities;
- understanding the economics of poverty reduction and how to design appropriate poverty alleviation policies;
- asking whether narrowing the distribution of income is a good thing and if so, how unequal a distribution is socially acceptable, and which mechanism will achieve this outcome at least cost;
- designing policies to contribute to economic growth as a means of enhancing well-being and general societal happiness;
- assessing whether various approaches to international aid contribute to or constrain economic growth and development (e.g., is it better to teach a man to fish or give him money to buy a fish);
- evaluating how to optimize individual and societal well-being;
- considering whether more competition is better than less and how patents, licences and the protection of intellectual property contribute to this debate;
- discussing the pros and cons of free trade and various trade agreements;
- analyzing whether immigration is good for a country and/or good for the immigrants;
- ascertaining how markets works and illustrating how this knowledge can be utilized to explain that observed oil prices have both increased dramatically and decreased precipitously in the last few years, affecting both individuals and economies;
- explaining why have governments gone from apparent prosperity to relative austerity, with direct implications for public services, taxes, competitiveness, indebtedness, and inflation;
- learning how the banking system works;
- evaluating how various labour markets work (e.g., how does an increase in minimum wage affect the working poor or why do medical doctors earn more than waiters);
- understanding whether changes in the money supply may affect your choice of where to visit on your summer vacation and why;
- appreciating the role economics play in education and health and how these, in turn, affect the economy; and
- considering how the education system contributes to innovation, productivity and well-being?
You may ask: why should I study economics? Well, it’s fun, it’s interesting and it’s enlightening. It will provide you with marketable skills that should enhance your employability. By way of illustration, Statistics Canada recently released Frenette and Frank (2016)1 which showed that age-adjusted, mean earnings for individuals who were 25 to 54 year old and possessed economics undergraduate or graduate degrees were above the average of all university disciplines within Canada. In particular, for both genders, economics graduates were within the top 20 to 25% of the highest earnings disciplines within Canada.
Economics will help you understand the real world. It will help you improve your understanding of how choices are made, what the explicit and implicit trade-offs are in any choice and the opportunity costs of alternative choices. While economics will help you understand graphs and tables and how to analyze statistics and predict behaviour through the use of conceptual models, it will not tell you what you should think. However, economics will help you think more clearly about real-world issues. It will certainly help you develop a way of thinking and provide you the capacity to make a positive contribution to issues that are relevant to the real world and are probably important to you as well.
Our graduates have gone on to careers in business, finance and banking, law, consulting, academia, teaching, real estate, insurance and actuarial work, economic research and economic analysis as policy advisors in both the public and private sectors.
Finally, what can you do with an economics degree? Anything you want!
1 Frenette, M. and Frank, K., (2016), “Earnings of Postsecondary Graduates by Detailed Field of Study”, Statistics Canada, Economic Insights, March 11, 2016, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-626-x/11-626-x2016056-eng.htm