Countries by real GDP growth rate in 2016. Countries in red were in recession.

Economics (ə-/)[1][2][3] is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.[4]

Economics focuses on the behaviour and interactions of economic agents and how economies work. Microeconomics analyzes basic elements in the economy, including individual agents and markets, their interactions, and the outcomes of interactions. Individual agents may include, for example, households, firms, buyers, and sellers. Macroeconomics analyzes the entire economy (meaning aggregated production, consumption, savings, and investment) and issues affecting it, including unemployment of resources (labour, capital, and land), inflation, economic growth, and the public policies that address these issues (monetary, fiscal, and other policies). See glossary of economics.

Other broad distinctions within economics include those between positive economics, describing "what is", and normative economics, advocating "what ought to be"; between economic theory and applied economics; between rational and behavioural economics; and between mainstream economics and heterodox economics.[5]

Economic analysis can be applied throughout society, in business, finance, health care, and government. Economic analysis is sometimes also applied to such diverse subjects as crime, education,[6] the family, law, politics, religion,[7] social institutions, war,[8] science,[9] and the environment.[10]

The term and its various definitions

The discipline was renamed in the late 19th century, primarily due to Alfred Marshall, from "political economy" to "economics" as a shorter term for "economic science". At that time, it became more open to rigorous thinking and made increased use of mathematics, which helped support efforts to have it accepted as a science and as a separate discipline outside of political science and other social sciences.[a][12][13][14]

A map of world economies by size of GDP (nominal) in USD, World Bank, 2014.[15]

There are a variety of modern definitions of economics; some reflect evolving views of the subject or different views among economists.[16][17] Scottish philosopher Adam Smith (1776) defined what was then called political economy as "an inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations", in particular as:

a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator [with the twofold objectives of providing] a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people ... [and] to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue for the publick services.[18]

Jean-Baptiste Say (1803), distinguishing the subject from its public-policy uses, defines it as the science of production, distribution, and consumption of wealth.[19] On the satirical side, Thomas Carlyle (1849) coined "the dismal science" as an epithet for classical economics, in this context, commonly linked to the pessimistic analysis of Malthus (1798).[20] John Stuart Mill (1844) defines the subject in a social context as:

The science which traces the laws of such of the phenomena of society as arise from the combined operations of mankind for the production of wealth, in so far as those phenomena are not modified by the pursuit of any other object.[21]

Alfred Marshall provides a still widely cited definition in his textbook Principles of Economics (1890) that extends analysis beyond wealth and from the societal to the microeconomic level:

Economics is a study of man in the ordinary business of life. It enquires how he gets his income and how he uses it. Thus, it is on the one side, the study of wealth and on the other and more important side, a part of the study of man.[22]

Lionel Robbins (1932) developed implications of what has been termed "[p]erhaps the most commonly accepted current definition of the subject":[17]

Economics is a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.[23]

Robbins describes the definition as not classificatory in "pick[ing] out certain kinds of behaviour" but rather analytical in "focus[ing] attention on a particular aspect of behaviour, the form imposed by the influence of scarcity."[24] He affirmed that previous economists have usually centred their studies on the analysis of wealth: how wealth is created (production), distributed, and consumed; and how wealth can grow.[25] But he said that economics can be used to study other things, such as war, that are outside its usual focus. This is because war has as the goal winning it (as a sought after end), generates both cost and benefits; and, resources (human life and other costs) are used to attain the goal. If the war is not winnable or if the expected costs outweigh the benefits, the deciding actors (assuming they are rational) may never go to war (a decision) but rather explore other alternatives. We cannot define economics as the science that studies wealth, war, crime, education, and any other field economic analysis can be applied to; but, as the science that studies a particular common aspect of each of those subjects (they all use scarce resources to attain a sought after end).

Some subsequent comments criticized the definition as overly broad in failing to limit its subject matter to analysis of markets. From the 1960s, however, such comments abated as the economic theory of maximizing behaviour and rational-choice modelling expanded the domain of the subject to areas previously treated in other fields.[26] There are other criticisms as well, such as in scarcity not accounting for the macroeconomics of high unemployment.[27]

Gary Becker, a contributor to the expansion of economics into new areas, describes the approach he favours as "combin[ing the] assumptions of maximizing behaviour, stable preferences, and market equilibrium, used relentlessly and unflinchingly."[28] One commentary characterizes the remark as making economics an approach rather than a subject matter but with great specificity as to the "choice process and the type of social interaction that [such] analysis involves." The same source reviews a range of definitions included in principles of economics textbooks and concludes that the lack of agreement need not affect the subject-matter that the texts treat. Among economists more generally, it argues that a particular definition presented may reflect the direction toward which the author believes economics is evolving, or should evolve.[17]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Ekonomie
አማርኛ: ሥነ ንዋይ
العربية: اقتصاد (علم)
aragonés: Economía
অসমীয়া: অৰ্থনীতি
asturianu: Economía
azərbaycanca: İqtisadi nəzəriyyə
bamanankan: Nafasorosira
বাংলা: অর্থনীতি
Bahasa Banjar: Ikunumi
Bân-lâm-gú: Keng-chè-ha̍k
Basa Banyumasan: Ekonomi
башҡортса: Иҡтисад (фән)
беларуская: Эканоміка
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Эканоміка
भोजपुरी: अर्थशास्त्र
bosanski: Ekonomija
brezhoneg: Armerzh
буряад: Эдэй засаг
Cebuano: Ekonomiks
čeština: Ekonomie
Chamoru: Ekonomia
chiShona: Ronzanzanga
corsu: Ecunumia
Cymraeg: Economeg
Ελληνικά: Οικονομικά
Esperanto: Ekonomiko
estremeñu: Economia
euskara: Ekonomia
Fiji Hindi: Arthsaastr
føroyskt: Búskapur
Frysk: Ekonomy
furlan: Economie
Gaeilge: Eacnamaíocht
Gaelg: Tarmaynys
Gàidhlig: Eaconomachd
galego: Economía
贛語: 經濟學
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: अर्थशास्त्र
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Kîn-chi-ho̍k
한국어: 경제학
hrvatski: Ekonomija
Ilokano: Ekonomika
Bahasa Indonesia: Ilmu ekonomi
interlingua: Economia
Interlingue: Economie
íslenska: Hagfræði
עברית: כלכלה
Basa Jawa: Ékonomi
ქართული: ეკონომიკა
kaszëbsczi: Ekònomijô
Kiswahili: Somo la Uchumi
Kreyòl ayisyen: Ekonomi
kurdî: Aborî
Кыргызча: Экономика
Ladino: Ekonomiya
Latina: Oeconomica
latviešu: Ekonomika
Lëtzebuergesch: Ekonomie
lietuvių: Ekonomika
Ligure: Economìa
Limburgs: Economie
Lingua Franca Nova: Economia
la .lojban.: dinske
македонски: Економија
Malagasy: Toe-karena
მარგალური: ეკონომიკა
Bahasa Melayu: Ekonomi
Mirandés: Eiquenomie
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဘောဂဗေဒ
Nederlands: Economie
Nedersaksies: Ekonomie
नेपाल भाषा: अर्थशास्त्र
日本語: 経済学
norsk nynorsk: Samfunnsøkonomi
Nouormand: Êcononmie
Novial: Ekonomike
occitan: Economia
Oromoo: Dinagdee
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Iqtisodiyot
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਅਰਥਸ਼ਾਸਤਰ
پنجابی: اکنامکس
Patois: Ikanamix
ភាសាខ្មែរ: សេដ្ឋកិច្ច
Piemontèis: Conomìa
Tok Pisin: Ikonimikis
polski: Ekonomia
português: Economia
Qaraqalpaqsha: Ekonomika
Runa Simi: Musiku
русиньскый: Економия
саха тыла: Экономика
ᱥᱟᱱᱛᱟᱲᱤ: ᱠᱟᱹᱣᱰᱤ ᱟᱹᱨᱤ
Gagana Samoa: Economics
sardu: Economia
Scots: Economics
Seeltersk: Wirtskup
Sesotho sa Leboa: Thutothuo
shqip: Ekonomia
sicilianu: Ecunumìa
Simple English: Economics
slovenčina: Ekonómia
slovenščina: Ekonomija
Soomaaliga: Dhaqaale
српски / srpski: Економија
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ekonomija
Basa Sunda: Ékonomi
Tagalog: Ekonomika
татарча/tatarça: Икътисад (фән)
тоҷикӣ: Иқтисод
Thuɔŋjäŋ: Piöcmääcëkäŋ
українська: Економіка
اردو: معاشیات
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: ئىقتىسادشۇناسلىق
vèneto: Economia
vepsän kel’: Ekonomik (tedo)
Tiếng Việt: Kinh tế học
Volapük: Konömav
walon: Economeye
文言: 計學
Wolof: Koom-koom
吴语: 經濟學
ייִדיש: עקאנאמיק
粵語: 經濟學
Zazaki: İqtısad
Zeêuws: Economie
žemaitėška: Akuonuomėka
中文: 经济学