Economics is a social science devoted to the study of scarcity, and how individuals, organizations, and governments make choices. The discipline’s guiding principle is found in the idea that all of these choices can most usefully be seen as decisions to allocate scarce resources across a range of competing uses. This single principle is always in play, and leads economists to study a wide array of social questions.
In the first year Economics courses you will be exposed to the use of this basic principle and the analytical tools that go with them in both the microeconomic and macroeconomic realm. The first of these (micro) refers to the study of choices made by individuals and/or individual firms, and how these decisions interact in markets. The macro segment then looks at how this principle allows us to better understand the behavior of the economy in the aggregate. This leads to the study of unemployment, inflation, government budgets and international trade balances. These courses then provide the basis for all of the more senior – and more specialized – courses offered by the Department.
There are economists in the Department working in most of the 'conventional' areas of economics such as international trade, unemployment, tax policy, and the determination of wages and incomes. However, department members are also doing research on issues that are outside the typical world view of what it is economists do. We have researchers working on crime (Lochner), education (Caucutt, Stinebrickner), marriage and the family (Bowlus), personal bankruptcy (MacGee, Livshits), the Chinese economy (Sicular, Whalley) and financial market innovation (Carvajal), as well as many other issues. You can learn about our faculty members’ research and teaching interests by browsing our Faculty site.
The Department is also home to a number of Research Centres, which have a variety of orientations and areas of research emphasis.
On Saturday November 19th, 2011 Western opened its doors to thousands of prospective students and their parents. Professor Michael Parkin delivered a mini-lecture on "Canada's Economic Headwinds." This video gives you an indication of what a real economics lecture is like at Western.
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