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Economics or Business?

If you are reading this blog post, then you are probably confused as whether to opt for business or economics. The University of Bologna offers course that are a bit more economics-oriented (i.e. CLEF) or a bit more business-oriented (i.e. CLABE and the new CLAME in Forlì). Read on to get a clearer idea of these two disciplines.

Why study economics?

Economics is a discipline concerned with the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. It studies how individuals, businesses, governments and nations make choices on allocating resources to satisfy their wants and needs. Economics can be usually divided into two streams—microeconomics, which focuses on individuals; and macroeconomics, which focuses on the behaviour of the economy as a whole.

Some of the questions that you will be able to answer after studying economics are:

  • How is the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country calculated?
  • How does the banking system function in an economy?
  • How can economic trade and growth be boosted?
  • How can inflation be controlled and reduced in an economy?
  • What are the various types of markets?
  • What is Keynesian economics?

 Finance vs economics, are they different or the same? Finance refers to the study of credit, investments, banking, money, assets and liabilities that make up financial systems. Hence, finance is considered to be an offshoot of economics.

Sometimes, economics is referred to as the ‘queen of social sciences’. This is because economics is all about choices and decision-making. Economics is the cornerstone of several social issues such as inflation, poverty, unemployment, and human rights. Solutions to these problems can only be obtained through the study of economics.

Studying economics is an excellent way to gain expertise in problem-solving skills and to cultivate a rational method of observing and solving problems.  Economics is also considered to be an excellent subject for graduate study in the fields of government, business economics, law, labour relations, public administration, and diplomacy. 

There are several more reasons why you should study economics, which are:

  • Demand for economics graduate professionals: In today’s time, graduates from the best economics schools have high demand in job markets. This is because they learn a variety of skills that will benefit companies. They also get paid better. A study conducted in 2016 revealed that economics graduates, on an average, earned €11,000 more than other professionals.
  • Relationship between economics and the world: Economics is truly an omnipresent subject. Graduating from an economics university will give you a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the world. You will learn topics ranging from demand and supply to international trade.
  • Real-life application: As mentioned earlier, economics has real-life applications especially with regards to instability of global markets. Several universities offer opportunities to apply your learning in real-life scenarios through internships.
  • Analytical and reasoning skills: Analytical skills are extremely important in the field of economics because you have to analyse economic models, come up with solutions for problems, and interpret economic statistics, data, and evidence. Hence, by the time you graduate with an economics degree, you will have brilliant analytical skills.
  • Writing skills: Since you have to create projects and economic models, and write assignments on a regular basis, your writing skills will develop greatly.

Why study business?

Business refers to an economic system or an organisation where products, goods, and services are exchanged in lieu of money. The goal of every business is to be successful through earning revenue and profit. If Economics focuses on the big picture of the world’s finances, then you can say that Business Studies have a more specific vision, teaching you the skills to manage a specific company or organisation. In short, following Business Studies means you will learn how to create an organisation and then manage and develop it further. Studying Economics, on the other hand, will give you a broad understanding of past and present economic processes.

Taking up a business major will test you academically from all directions. You will have to simultaneously focus on several areas such as leadership, mathematics, strategy, finance, accounting, presentations and law. If you decide on taking up a business major, you should know about the specialised fields of business degrees. Some of these specialised fields include entrepreneurship, marketing, international business, finance, human resources management and information systems management.

Some skills business graduates will develop:

  • Communication skills: Writing reports, assignments and presenting projects require excellent communication skills. Pursuing a business degree will hone your communication skills and help you perfect the ability of making your point in any situation.
  • Critical thinking: A business administration degree will enhance your problem-solving skills and critical thinking. This would help you in tough situations such as fixing ‘faux pas’ made by your organisation, and in balancing budgets.
  • Accounting skills: Organisations more often than not fail due to subpar financial planning and management. Studying accounting in your business degree will give you confidence to handle your firm’s finance and to increase its overall business.
  • Entrepreneurial skills: If you harbour the dream of starting a business, doing a business administration degree is the best way to go about it. You will be taught how to successfully implement creativity, innovation, and execution strategies with regards to products and services.
  • Research skills: In a business degree programme, you will be taught how to carry out in-depth research. These researching skills will be of great assistance to you when you set up your own organisation. It will also help you in gauging customer demands and requirements.
  • Project management skills: While studying for your business degree, there will be times where you have to submit two assignments by the same deadline. This will hold you in good stead when you start working. It will help you manage and successfully complete the tasks at hand before the deadlines.

Should I study economics or business?

There are several factors that you can take into account while deciding if you should study economics or business. Take a look at these factors:

  • Looking at details or the big picture: If you are interested in the big picture, study economics, as it will help you understand the whole economy. However, if you are more interested in smaller environments such as rhe functioning of a company, then studying business is the way forward for you.
  • Theory or practical: If you take up economics, you will have to study and interpret data, which they apply to prove or disprove theories. On the other hand, in business administration, you will have to focus on practical issues that occur on a daily basis.
  • Skills for the real world: Both these courses will give you skills to prepare you for the workplace and real world. You might assume getting a business degree will automatically equip you with the skills for running a business. However, this does not hold true because these skills are only learned on the job.

This article was written by Meghdeep Patnaik and edited by Amelia Hayward-Cole.