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Economics - Historical Development, Major Theories, Themes, Global Organization And Orientation, Impact Of Influential Economic Ideas

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The term economics, from the Greek oikonomika, means a science or art of managing the household. In modern usage, it refers to the efficient allocation of scarce resources in the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services to satisfy various desires. As a branch of knowledge, economics or economic science is the study of how to efficiently use limited resources—natural resources (land), capital, labor, entrepreneurship, and information—to achieve maximum satisfaction of human material wants. Like other social sciences, economics studies human behavior but focuses on maximizing satisfaction or benefit as efficiently as possible or at minimum cost in the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Hence, economics deals with decision making, theory, and management of the economy or economic systems. The decision makers or economic units of the economic system are households, businesses, and government.

Microeconomics is the branch of economics that deals with individual or specific economic units such as an individual industry, firm, or household and their interactions. In 1817, David Ricardo (1772–1823) wrote on the forces that determine the functional distribution of income and the theories of value and price, and it was from these theories that microeconomic theory originated. Microeconomics in the early twenty-first century includes the theory of consumer behavior, theory of production, and the theory of markets. It deals with such topics as prices of a specific product, the number of workers employed in a specific firm, the revenue or income of a particular firm or household, and the expenditures of a specific firm, government entity, or family. Microeconomic analysis focuses mostly on optimization and equilibrium analysis.

Macroeconomics deals with the aggregate economy and the behavior of its major units—households, businesses, government, and the foreign sector. Developed in the 1930s, macroeconomics was practically invented by the English economist John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946) in his attempt to develop an answer to the Great Depression. Keynes argued that the Great Depression was a problem of insufficient aggregate demand and that if the private economy could not generate sufficient demand, it was the government's responsibility to do so. Macroeconomics focuses on such issues as growth, recessions, inflation, unemployment, and government policy and deals with such topics as total output or gross domestic product (GDP), total employment, total income, aggregate expenditure, and general level of prices.

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