Economics: a college requirement

Construction workers pose at UMass Boston.

University students across many different majors all have basic requirements that must be completed in order to be awarded a college diploma. These requirements could be English, math, diversity, humanities, science, or several other basic requirements. One interesting subject that is not a requirement for all majors is Economics. Economics should be a basic college requirement for anyone looking to get a college diploma and enter the workforce. The basic principles taught in Economics can apply to any major, and are extremely important for anyone looking to enter the workforce. Economics covers a wide range of important factors that are important for any consumer or employee to understand. Having a basic understanding of economics, regardless of your field of study, can put you ahead of your peers and change the whole perception of the world you live in.

As an Economics major myself, some may suggest that I write this with a great deal of bias. However, the principles I learned in many of my economics classes became very important when I analyzed political phenomena such as wealth and income inequality, and concepts such as supply and demand. Any consumer interacts with the marketplace and is affected by aspects of both micro and macroeconomics. Thus, understanding the underlying factors at play will help you become a more informed voter, a smarter consumer, and a more intelligent employee. Without Economics, you might not understand how prices are set the way they are, how supply chains work, or how the banking system functions. These aspects of our society are so basic, and everyone utilizes them, yet we fail to understand exactly how and why they function in the manner that they do. 

Supply and demand 

One of the first economic principles taught to Economics majors is known as supply and demand. While most people have a basic understanding of supply and demand, most don’t truly understand the ways in which supply and demand impact our day-to-day lives. As Investopedia describes it: “The law of supply and demand is a theory that explains the interaction between the sellers of a resource and the buyers for that resource. The theory defines the relationship between the price of a given good or product and the willingness of people to either buy or sell it. Generally, as price increases, people are willing to supply more and demand less and vice versa when the price falls” (1). This basic principle not only impacts goods but also impacts services and wages. As the supply of certain skillsets decreases, the demand increases, thereby increasing the wages that an employer is willing to pay for that service. This is especially important for college students early in their college careers, understanding how and why an athlete is paid more than a doctor can help them make informed decisions about their careers. 

Market competition 

While capitalism is imperfect and has many flaws, one of the greatest aspects of capitalism is its ability to create competition within economies. The example I often give is a Starbucks across the street from a Dunkin’ Donuts. These two companies must compete for employees, customers and goods. As they compete with each other, they improve each other, each one undercutting the other in costs, improving the goods they sell, and increasing benefits for employees. This rampant competition causes some businesses to thrive and others to go bankrupt. However, when monopolies form, this competition ends and anti-trust laws must be implemented. 

Economics is by far one of the most fascinating subjects and it’s no wonder why it is one of the most popular majors and a major that can be applied to many different fields. I recommend everyone—whether you are a biology major, political science major, nursing major, English major, or anything in between—to take a basic economics course. You will be surprised how much you’ll learn and how much your worldview will change. 

  1. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/law-of-supply-demand.asp

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