The nature of economics

Economics is the scientific study of the ownership, use, and exchange of scarce resources – often shortened to the science of scarcity. Economics is regarded as a social science because it uses scientific methods to build theories that can help explain the behaviour of individuals, groups and organisations. Economics attempts to explain economic behaviour, which arises when scarce resources are exchanged.

In terms of methodology, economists, like other social scientists, are not able to undertake controlled experiments in the way that chemists and biologists are. Hence, economists have to employ different methods, based primarily on observation and deduction and the construction of abstract models.

As the social sciences have evolved over the last 100 years, they have become increasingly specialised. This is true for economics, as witnessed by the development of many different strands of investigation including micro and macroeconomics, pure and applied economics, and industrial and financial economics. What links them all is the attempt to understand how and why exchange takes place, and how exchange creates benefits and costs for the participants.

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