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in recent times in Ghana, unemployment have been a major macro economic issue. as a student of economics, write an article to be presented on a seminar stating the causes, effects of unemployment as well as how to control unemployment problems in your country? (talk) 19:40, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

This is not the place for that. I suggest you read "Global Economic History" by Robert C. Allen. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:37, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
It is reasonable to expect that the Unemployment article should have a more thorough exposition on monetary, fiscal, resource, and environmental factors shown to cause employment in the most reliable sources and the most popular sources which defer from them. That is what Unemployment#Controlling or reducing unemployment would probably look like if it was not US-centric. Developing versus developing countries' perspectives should both be included. The evidence strongly points to the extent of tax progressiveness as being the principal determinant component.[1][2] EllenCT (talk) 01:51, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

I agree that these sources are plausible, but both are original research. Before we can use them in Wikipedia they need to be published in a refereed journal. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:06, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

[3] and [4] are consistent refereed papers, the first being a literature review, and the book reviewed at [5] is based on refereed work in epidemiology journals, which is perhaps a harder science than economics. EllenCT (talk) 10:35, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
Do these two studies actually say anything about unemployment? Regards, Iselilja (talk) 12:34, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
They all do. And there are three, not two. How would you use their conclusions to improve the article? EllenCT (talk) 02:51, 28 March 2014 (UTC) @Iselilja: why are you arguing so hard for the inaccurate side at arbitration but not helping out here? EllenCT (talk) 22:53, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Classical models[edit]

"Classical models of unemployment occurs when wages are too high for employers to be willing to hire more workers. Wages may be too high because of minimum wage laws or union activity."

That classical model is missing the law of supply and demand. This article is biased towards the rich and against the greater agregate demand that comes with an expanding middle class because of the positional effects described in [6]. Much of this has happened recently.[7] EllenCT (talk) 22:53, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Business cycle[edit]

The business cycle assumes that increases in productivity will remain decoupled from increases in wages, which is the same as saying taxes will remain regressive, because of the aggregate demand inherent in a growing middle class. EllenCT (talk) 22:53, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

There is a business cycle article. Is there something in that article that needs improvement? If so, that is the place to contribute or discuss. – S. Rich (talk) 00:01, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes but I don't know what it is yet. EllenCT (talk) 05:41, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
It's just as likely that the improvement should be made to whatever article discusses how changes to the statistics cited at [8] are derived. It is probably best to ask about that at WT:ECON. EllenCT (talk) 01:33, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Intro is an article.[edit]

The introducion is not an introduction in the usual sense. It is an article unto itself and conatains information that should appear in the TOC I suggest abstracting a much shorter introduction and integrating the rest into the body of the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:20, 22 April 2014 (UTC)


This article is about the broad topic of economics, it is not about the neoclassical school of economics. The neoclassical school of economics has its own section, and it has its own article(s) as well. The definition of economics in Merriam Webster's is "a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services".

The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica starts:

ECONOMICS (from the Gr. οἰκονομική, sc. τέχνη, from οἶκος, a house, and νόμος, rule,—the “art of household management”), the general term, with its synonym “political economy,” for the science or study of wealth (welfare) and its production, applicable either to the individual, the family, the State, or in the widest sense, the world.

People from the neoclassical school keep trying to make the opening say all of economics is tailored to just how they see things. Wikipedia should stick to NPOV like Merriam-Webster and the Encyclopedia Britannica do, and not have the whole opening written from a neoclassical slant.

The opening which has been there for years, and which was there at the beginning of this year, is similar to the old Encyclopedia Britannica, or modern Merriam-Webster definition. We should have a NPOV opening which does not just give the ideas of one economic school. Minimax Regret (talk) 04:55, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Good call. The idea that economic actors behave rationally has been so thoroughly debunked that it certainly does not belong in the lead. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:33, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Updating definition of Economics[edit]

Below is a proposal to update the definition of economics. If economics is a social science it must study some aspect of human behavior. The proposed definition does not make any assumption of human behavior such as self interest, rationality or estable preferences. It only says it studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means, and that when the ends are value, behavior adopts the form of choice.

The definition in the article on economics is based on the one giving by Jean-Baptiste Say in his "Treatise on Political Economy or, The Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth", published in 1803. But, as Lionel Robbings pointed out one hundred and thirty years later: "it follows from the very nature of a science that until it has reached a certain stage of development, [the right] definition of its scope is necessarily impossible."[1] Robbins thought that, by his time, the economic science "had become sufficiently unified for the identity of the problems underlying it various separate spheres of practical and philosophical enquiry to be detected"[2]; consequently, he wrote a hundred and sixty pages essay on "The Nature and Significance of Economic Science". After forty years of angry criticism and spirited discussions by his peers, his views became widely accepted by main stream economists.[3]

Say's approach was to define economics specifying certain areas of human activity. By implication, economics analyzes everything that goes on in those spheres. Nothing farther from the truth. Acconding to Robbings economics only analyzes certain aspects of production, distribution and consumption of wealth, "the form imposed by the influence of scarcity"[4]. It does not study production as a process or the different techniques to produce a thing; neither study management nor production problems.

Here is a simple example of an economic analysis applied to the airline industry as an illustration of a topic different than wealth. Safety is a big concern of everyone who flies or contemplates it. We are nineteen times safer in a plane than in a car, according to Arnold Barnett, MIT professor of statistics and an authority in the subject. In order to save lives, a safety proposal for airline carriers may be under consideration; but if the proposal increases airline ticket prices or multiplies air travel inconveniences, it may end costing more lives than it saves, if it pushes enough people onto the road. Therefore, the way people make choices on their travel options (economics) must be considered in any airline security proposal.

I present below the proposed definition based entirely on Robbins' for consideration and review of the Wikipedia public.

"Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses"[5]. First, economics studies public and private choices concerning the allocation of scarce resources to competing ends, because when ends are value, "behaviour necessarily assumes the form of choice".[6]. People and society busy themselves in solving the ever present problem or dilemma of choosing among alternate courses of actions and uses of their scarce resources, as choosing one alternative means foregoing another, what economist call opportunity cost. When people and society try to solve this problem they are economizing -going through a logical process of choosing among alternatives. This is the central issue in economics. And second, the allocation activity is a dynamic process changing and adjusting for every period according to the technical and social environment and the scarcity conditions of resources. Economics studies the successive series of allocation events as they move toward a steady state, what economists call equilibrium. Then, economics tries to discover the equilibrium conditions and evaluates the consequences and implications equilibrium has for the individual, for a segment of society and, in the aggregate, for society at large.

References supplied by Firulaith
  1. ^ Robbings, Lionel (1935). An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science. Great Britain: Macmillan and Co., Limited. p. 2. 
  2. ^ Robbings, p. 3
  3. ^ Defining Economics: the Long Road to Acceptance of the Robbins Definition, Roger E. Backhouse and Steven G. Medema, "Lionel Robbins’s essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science", 75th anniversary conference proceedings, p. 209;
  4. ^ Robbings, Lionel (1935). An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science (Second ed.). Great Britain: Macmillan and Co., Limited. p. 17. 
  5. ^ Robbings, An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science (Second ed.) p.16
  6. ^ An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science (Second ed.) p. 14

Wikipedia articles do not represent our personal opinions, they are our best attempts to represent what the mainstream academics in the subject have published about the topic. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 03:28, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

What I am proposing is to use Lionel Robbins' definition instead of Jean-Baptiste Say's definition which has become obsolete. It has been long struggle, but Robbins's definition is now the most widely acepted by today mainstream economists (see Reference [1]). What I doing in this talk page is to persuade you and other wikipediam to accept it. Firulaith (talk) 00:14, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

Scarcity, value, choice, economizing, opportunity cost, and equilibrium are basic concepts of pure economic science. They are applied from an isolated man in a forgotten island, to the global economy with its intricate web of social, political, economic relationships. Pure economic science does not presuppose the existence of exchange, distribution, institutions, social relationships, or mode of production. A single isolated man in a forgotten island, as well as a patriarchal, medieval, capitalistic, or socialistic societies deal with those concepts on a daily basic. Firulaith (talk) 19:02, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

I'm following this discussion with interest. It reminds me of the last major rewrite of the article mathematics. There the mathematician's definition: mathematics is the method of deduction applied to precise definitions and axioms, lost out to the lay definition: the study of numbers and shapes. The definition of economics in this article is currently the lay definition. Will you succeed in replacing it with the economist's definition? If so, you need to render the economist's definition briefly and clearly, avoiding words such as "versatile", which I assume means that "your money or your life" is not an economic transaction. Rick Norwood (talk) 23:36, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

I have rewriten this proposal acconding to S. Rich (talk) and Rick Norwood|talk, advise. I made it shorter, with more references, and excluded what may be construe as "original work". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Firulaith (talkcontribs) 00:30, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

For Robbins's definition to be useful here, it needs to make sense to the lay person, and coincide with the way the word is commonly used. "Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses," raises several questions. 1) Is there any advantage to the word "human". Are humans the only animals to which economics can be applied? 2) Why must the means be scarce? Food is no longer scarce. America throws away enough food to feed all the hungry people in the world. Is understanding the waste of abundant resources not an economic question? 3) Must the means have alternative uses? If you (and only you) are drowning and I offer to sell you the only life jacket for $1000, is that not an economic transaction? But if we take out those three words, then all of sociology, psychology, and philosophy becomes economics. What I am asking is, why do those three restrictions, and not others, make behavior economic? Rick Norwood (talk) 11:30, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

You have raised excellent questions Rick. Economics is a social science, as such, it about human behavior not animal behavior for which, the logical process for choosing among alternatives is incipient or entirely guided on instincts and trial and error. Although humans have instincts and use the trial and error procedure extensible, they also value their options with personal and social considerations and choose, accordingly, with difficulty and uncertainly. If food is wasted in large quantities, the economic and political system is not doing a good job in allocating scarce resources. Scarcity means, that although we may have many things, we are not yet satisfied, we want more; even the richiest people want more. Scarcity would end when we can have all what we want of everything without sacrificing anything, or when we are totally content with what we have. Until that happens, scarcity reigns sovereign. An finally, means must have alternative uses, besides being accessible, otherwise there is no need to choose, and economic analysis is superfluous. Firulaith (talk) 16:52, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for your reply. 1) Psychology is a social science, but we have the field of animal psychology. I'm not really raising an objection, just wondering if the word "human" adds anything to the sentence. 2) I see your point. 3) This is less clear to me. Even if the means, like the life jacket, have no alternative use, a person can still refuse to buy at a certain price, or refuse to sell at a certain price. I'm reminded of a friend of mine who collects old time radio. He met a US Army Sargent in Europe who had phonograph records of old time radio programs that were distributed to the troops during World War II. My friend offered the Sargent all the money he could afford for the records. The Sargent chose to break the records instead of selling them, though he would have sold them if my friend could have raised more money. Even when something has no alternative use, people sometimes refuse to sell. Is that not an economic decision? Rick Norwood (talk) 22:04, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

I had to think this for a while, Rick. If you are suggesting that the word “human” is understood, then it is fine to remove it. But if what you are implying is that economics may study human and non human behavior as well, we could be accused of “original work” by other wikipedians. The word history, for example, can ambiguously mean the geological history of the earth, a wikipidia article history, or the social science that study past “human” events. I would say that the word “human” clarify the sense the word “behavior” is used in the sentence.

As for your third point, you are talking about exchange. We all own property that can be exchanged in a market at a price. We are not seeking to sell most of them. For the ones we would sell, we have a reservation price, meaning the minimum price at which we would let them go. If nobody offers us at least our reservation price we won’t sell. The modern means to acquire property by exchange is money, which is both scarce and has alternative uses. As you say, the decision to sell or to buy is an economic one. We should consider those decisions as human economic behavior, which involves desired ends and limited resources capable of alternative application to obtain them. Firulaith (talk) 01:58, 21 July 2014 (UTC)

I think it is a bad idea to start wandering from the sources. we should hew close to what WP:UNDUE the general usages/definitions are.

  • "the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services" [9]
  • "the social science concerned with the production and consumption of goods and services and the analysis of the commercial activities of a society"[10]
  • "The science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of commodities." [11]
  • "economics examines how people use their scarce resources to satisfy their unlimited wants" [12]
  • "the science that studies how people choose" [13]
  • "the study of a society's commercial activities in terms of the production , distribution and consumption of goods and services and how resources should be allocated." [14]
  • "economics is the study of scarce resources which have alternative uses" [15]

Good references. Too bad you forgot to sing your contribution. References 9, 10, and 11 are based on Say's definition whereas 12 (2014), 13 (2011), and 15 (2011) on Robbings'. Reference 14 (2006) are based on both. Say’s definition was fine, at his time, because, all classical economists, and Marx and Engels focused their attention on production, distribution, and consumption of wealth. When other economists made theoretical inroads in other areas of human knowledge, and their work was accepted as mainstream, then the Say’s definition became obsolete because, it left out main areas of economic theoretical inquires. Moreover, economics only analyzes certain aspects of production, distribution and consumption of wealth those falling under the influence of scarcity, which force people to choose and economize. Robbings' definition covers Say´s plus the left out areas.

I invite wikipidians to edit my proposed opening for the economic article or to say they are fine with the way the opening is. Firulaith (talk) 21:45, 21 July 2014 (UTC)