An Introduction to Studying Economics

If you choose to study economics, it’s not just about examining the way in which money, industry, and trade are organized in a society. 

There are different types of economics, and therefore different choices to be made. For instance, there is a difference between economics and applied economics, and your career path will be very different depending on which you choose to study. 

For this reason, it’s better to know the clear distinction between the two. Therefore, we need to start with the answer to the question ‘What is the difference between economics and applied economics?

In a nutshell, while economics examines how goods and services are produced, distributed, and consumed, applied economics explains how those theories are applied to real-life situations and their effects.

However, to understand which you should study, and the impact it will have on any subsequent career choices, you would have to look at both in more detail.


Economics is a social science that studies how individuals, businesses (both large and small), and even governments transfer wealth and resources based on needs, wants, supply, and demand. 

The two main types of economics are microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics focuses on the behavior of individual consumers and producers and how they transfer wealth, whereas macroeconomics examines the same principles on a broader national or even international scale.

Applied Economics

As you might expect, applied economics deals with theories similar to economics but with more of a focus on how those ideas can be used in real-life situations. Or, to put it another way, applied economics is just economics ‘in context.’ 

Whereas economics is more theoretical, applied economics is more based on data and mathematics and uses theoretical models to predict possible outcomes based on data, research, and analysis.

Applied economics is also more specific than economics, which deals with general theories. Applied economics is used to evaluate risks based on data, and advise on decisions at both corporate a governmental level. 

For this reason, it is incorrect to view applied economics as merely a part of economics. Instead, it would be better to picture it as two different ideas that stem from the same principle.

Career Opportunities in Economics and Applied Economics

It is clear then, given the differences between these two disciplines, that choosing which one to study (especially at the master’s level) opens a different range of career possibilities. However, because of the influence that applied economics has on both corporate and government decisions, there is a greater breadth of choice for an individual with an applied economics qualification. 

In practical terms, this would indicate that not only are there more career paths open to those with an applied economics qualification, there are also more roles available within those careers, and those roles are available in more locations.

However, the principle that the most qualified candidates are the most sought after by employers for the ‘top jobs’ still applies, even when demand outstrips supply for those roles.