What Can The Study Of Economics Lead To?

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Economics
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What can the study of economics lead to? Aparna Sundaresan explores the exciting career of an economist

Economics as a discipline has been around for a while, but it was as recent as the 20th century that it shaped up to be the field we know today. Economics has come a long way from the 1700s when it was merely considered the study of “the wealth of nations” by a philosopher called Adam Smith. Consequently, the role of an economist to has progressed as the depth of enquiry has expanded.

THE WORLD OF ECONOMICS

Economics is traditionally classified as either micro or macro. Microeconomics, as the name suggests, deals with behaviour at a granular level. Economists here analyse and evaluate the growth, expansion, merger and acquisition prospects for a particular industry. Macroeconomics looks at the economy as a whole. A country’s income and output, its unemployment rate, inflation, consumption, etc fall under the scope of macroeconomics. A third branch, developmental economics, has gained ground in recent times. Economists work with think tanks, NGOs, research institutes, government bodies, etc, gathering data on a specific issue, analysing the trends in the issue and framing a conclusion.

BECOMING AN ECONOMIST

Economists usually hold a master’s degree in economics, applied economics or social sciences. In India, one may specialise in econometrics, microeconomics or macroeconomics. More specialisations, such as industrial economics, game theory, applied economics, financial economics and international trade, are available abroad.

WHY CHOOSE ECONOMICS?

  • As a subject, economics has universal application.
  • Economists are well-respected owing to their wealth of knowledge. An economist needs to be up-to-date with current affairs.
  • Economists tend to be good financial planners.

AT THE SAME TIME…

  • Economics demands a lot of time invested in a study, both during and after student years.
  • Economics is mathematics-heavy at a higher level. Those who do not enjoy numbers are unlikely to enjoy the subject.
  • Finding the first job can be tricky, since there is no concrete role a graduate can slip into to transition to the professional world.
  • Work hours tend to be long – sometimes too long for the payment received. And the work is not restricted to desk work; it may involve travelling and fieldwork.

CHALLENGES IN INDIA

Anuj Agarwal, Economic Analyst with CRISIL Ltd. says, “In India, the market for economists is quite a niche, so it is not too easy to switch jobs. Every organisation needs economists, but not in large numbers.” Adds Dipti Abhyankar, Associate Economist with Ambit Capital, “There isn’t a seasonal trend of hiring economists yet. Recruitment is mostly on ‘as-and-when required’ basis.”

That said, since the watchword for the 21st century is ‘economy’, owing to the global recession and economic challenges the world – India included – is facing, economists are the need of the hour. If you believe you can combine your numerical skills with social awareness to contribute to the country’s wealth, the exciting world of economics beckons you.

CAREER FACTS: ECONOMIST

JOB PROFILE:

Broadly, an economist studies how individuals, groups and organisations manage and use various resources to achieve their goals, and then proposes economic policies to improve the efficiency of the system. The resources may vary from consumer products (like toothpaste, clothing, etc) to financial products (like money). An economist also forecasts the future based on current trends.

INCOME:

An economics postgraduate may expect a starting salary between Rs. 4 and Rs. 6 lakhs per annum. The pay increases with experience.

SKILL SET:

Sharp analytical and mathematical skills, as well as a good amount of curiosity and a strong stomach for theoretical study.

STUDY:

  • St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi
  • Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai
  • Ethiraj College, Chennai
  • London School of Economics, UK
  • Harvard University, USA

SECTORS FOR ECONOMISTS:

Banking

Finance

Accountancy

Marketing

Business

Politics

Consumer goods

Government

EXPERTS SPEAK

“Compared to western countries, the scope for an economist in India is limited. However, being an economist myself, I can vouch for the fact that the demand in India is now shifting from general jobs to specialised jobs. So if one is a specialist in something, one’s demand will be higher. The need for economic analysis at industry and country-level has also gained importance in recent years, so India will definitely need more young and bright economists going forward.” – Dipti Abhyankar, Associate Economist, Ambit Capital

It is quite important to work with a known economist, the learning is quite good and at the same time, one gets an opportunity to create his name in the market. In India, there is hardly any scope as yet for microeconomic consulting which mainly relates to industrial economics and competition policy. Most of the jobs involve macroeconomic research work. As the current situation is, I feel if one can get some grasp on the Indian economy, it will be of great use, since emerging economies are the ones where growth lies.” – Anuj Agarwal, Economic Analyst, CRISIL Ltd.

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