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Economics – a window on the world

Study Economics at Otago and learn about economic theory, develop your skills of logical thinking – and pick up some great interpersonal skills along the way!

Choice is at the heart of all decision-making. Individuals, businesses and governments are all faced with making choices in situations where resources are scarce. This is where a knowledge of Economics is vital.

Economics applies to most aspects of everyday life. By studying Economics you will examine topics of obvious importance to human well-being. Economics is applicable in a wide range of fields, including:

  • Business
  • Finance
  • Administration
  • Law
  • Local and national government

Increasingly, policy debate in all areas is being cast in economic terms. Understanding most current issues requires knowledge of Economics.

Economics provides a valuable set of intellectual skills

Economics is more than just a subject – it's a way of thinking. It provides a logical way of looking at a variety of issues.

Practise the analytical techniques employed in Economics and learn to develop your:

  • General literacy
  • Communication and numeracy skills
  • Skills of abstraction (balancing simplification against relevance)
  • Skills of logical deduction
  • Critical thinking

Studying Economics provides insights into:

  • the general environment of resource allocation decisions
  • opportunity costs and trade-offs
  • project evaluation and government policy

These are crucially important in many areas. Often these insights are not obvious, and can be counter-intuitive to those who don't apply economic reasoning.

Economics graduates make great employees

In today's working world, transferable skills and flexibility, together with strong personal characteristics, tend to be more important than specific training in a narrow, vocational area. Employers are particularly keen on graduates with good analytical and problem-solving skills. Training in Economics emphasises these skills.

Employment opportunities are diverse

The wide range of skills developed through studying Economics (especially to degree or Honours level) opens up many, diverse career opportunities for graduates.

There is sometimes a mistaken perception that employment prospects for Economics graduates are not as favourable as for graduates from other Commerce areas. In fact, although Economics does not provide 'vocational training' in the same way as some other Commerce disciplines, Economics graduates enjoy similar employment rates as students of other Commerce degrees.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Education, people who graduate with an Economics degree, on average, earn 173% of the national median earnings five years after graduating, while 73% are employed, and another 15% are undertaking further study.

Take a look at this infographic about how Economics compares with other subjects on a variety of dimensions (PDF 947KB).

Where are our graduates headed?

In recent years Otago Economics graduates have found employment in a tremendously wide range of niches, both in the private and public sectors.

Many of our graduates can be found working in these areas:

  • Banks
  • Finance and investment companies
  • Sharebrokers
  • Accounting firms
  • Business services
  • Law firms
  • Major commercial and industrial companies
  • Reserve Bank
  • Treasury
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade
  • Department of Internal Affairs
  • Department of Labour
  • Statistics NZ
  • Ministry of Commerce
  • Economic research and consultancy firms
  • Hospital administration and Health Authorities
  • Local government and planning authorities
  • Universities and other educational institutions
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