Why studying economics was right for me

If my father had not been an economist, I doubt I would have understood or been interested in economics. Contrary to popular misconceptions, economists don’t print money, look at spreadsheets all day, or process your tax return. Economists actually develop and explain the policies behind all these things.


Why economics?

When I first asked my dad what it’s like to be an economist, I recall him saying, “I use data to solve problems that impact Australians.” After starting my economic studies this simple definition rings true.  Economics essentially is about identifying issues, understanding what causes them and working out how to address them.

Economists use data to understand the relationship between different parts of the economy and predict the effects future decisions will have on individuals, businesses, and the country as a whole. Economists advise governments and organisations based on research and analysis, including applying economic theories to real-world scenarios and information. While you can be an economist who specialises in maths or intensive technical modelling, you can also be an economist who develops social policy. The range and opportunities that being an economist offers are endless. 

Insights and recommendations from economists’ help shape economic policies and initiatives to promote growth, stability, and welfare within the Australian economy. As an economist in the Australian Public Service, you will have the chance to contribute to your community by improving the overall wellbeing of your fellow Australians. 


How I knew economics was right for me

When I was younger, I knew I wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives. My mother was a social worker, which opened my eyes to the importance of helping others and understanding various social issues. I enjoyed problem-solving and thinking outside of the box. The older I got, the more I challenged policies around me such as health and education and quickly realised there is no single solution. I also questioned why inequality, housing and climate change were issues that seemed impossible to solve. This led to an interest in data, statistics and how numbers can give a better understanding of what is going on in the world around us.

Economics allows you to apply data, statistics, maths, theory and logic in order to create forecasts, models, scenarios, narratives and policies. You can also investigate trade-offs, productivity, incentives, risks and living standards. Understanding all this allows to you influence various policies, both government and non-government, and inform the general public, teachers, students, media, business, employees and politicians.


What subjects do you need to have taken to study economics?

While most universities don’t require any formal subject pre-requisites, your high school English and Mathematics classes are very important as they will set you up to succeed in an economics degree. These subjects develop your writing and data analysis/ interpretation skills, which are key for economics. Finance and business subjects will introduce you to many key economic concepts, while humanities subjects are important for understanding the broader social, environmental and historical context.

Typically, an economics degree involves studying macroeconomics, microeconomics and econometrics. You may have the opportunity to specialise in a particular area, such as health or environmental economics, or take subjects from related fields such as statistics, commerce or law.

So, if you’re curious and want to better understand of human behaviour, business behaviour and varying markets, economics is for you.

Find out more about the Treasury Graduate Development Program and other pathways on Treasury’s website.

Nicole, The Treasury