Why should you study economics, other than to meet a course requirement for your academic degree? Motivations might include a desire to make money in the stock market, or to forecast demand for your product, or to understand how the laws of supply and demand affect gasoline prices. You may study economics in order to increase your chance of getting into a graduate or professional degree program.

Regardless of the reason a person might decide to study economics, it is a fact that each of us, every day of our lives, are affected by the powerful forces of economics. Your cost of attending college or traveling abroad, the income you receive from your occupation, the interest rate you pay on a home mortgage, the prices you pay for the products you purchase, the value of your retirement savings, your quality of life—all are largely determined by economic forces beyond your control. Understanding these forces and why they change can help you make decisions that will improve your life.

In national political elections, economic issues like unemployment, health insurance, taxes, inflation, and inequality usually dominate the political landscape. As a voter, you are asked to evaluate candidates’ policy proposals that you cannot properly assess without an understanding of economic principles. Virtually all national political issues—including national security—contain direct or indirect economic components. State and local elections are also dominated by economic issues such as taxes, welfare, and spending on highways and education.

At the most basic level, then, studying economics allows you to understand the world around you in a way that will help you make better decisions for yourself, your family, and—as a voter—for society.

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