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Jun
2nd
2021

In which I wank the superiority of economics as the best social science · 9:56am June 2nd

I'm bored, so I decided to make a brief case for economics, namely why it's superior to the other social sciences—sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science, et cetera—by measure of rigour, income, objectivity/accuracy, and applicability. Perhaps I'm biased, but I think I can give pretty good reasons nevertheless.

First of all, what is economics? It's not a business degree; a lot of people mistake it for personal finance or business administration; that is, they typically think economics is something businesses practice, when in fact it's more like a field of study, similar to a science. It even has its own (admittedly imitative) Nobel Prize.

Economics is the study of scarcity, that is, the study of how people allocate scarce resources and interact with value. Economics would not exist if material scarcity did not exist.

While the two main fields of economics are microeconomics and macroeconomics (because these are the two every econ student has to take, regardless of specialization), there's more to it than that. There's labour economics, development economics, urban economics, health economics, even behavioural economics (basically psychology).

See, there's a reason why the government has an economics department, but not a department for sociology or political science or whatever, and there's a reason why governments call on economists to analyze policy and its effects, both before and after implementation. It's because economics studies things that are concrete and directly applicable to how human beings live. How you spend your money and resources, how much you decide to save, the effects of taxes, employment and unemployment, what happens to firms and households under different constraints—this is all what economics is for. This is why an economics journal is going to have far more influence and be cited more than a sociology journal.

Yes, unsurprisingly economics gets the most attention out of all the social sciences, largely because it's the most useful. But what makes it so useful and accurate?

For starters, it's the most rigorous of the social sciences, that is, economics requires the most math and statistics. For average GRE quantitative scores, economics is up there with computer science and engineering, but not quite as high as math and physics.

In point of fact, grad level economics has some pretty high math requirements, such as real analysis, mathematical statistics, and even topology. The vast majority of MAs and PhDs major or at least minor in math. These requirements are comparable to engineering and even physics to some extent. My sorta-distant future goal is to get my PhD in economics. Hopefully I don't drop out.

Due to having the highest quantitative scores (and because the GRE is a de facto IQ test), economics students consequently have the highest average IQ of the social sciences.

Economics is also the least partisan of the social sciences. When it comes to the Democrat-to-Republican ratio of each field, they're the lowest.

The STEM subjects, such as chemistry, economics, mathematics, and physics, have lower D:R ratios than the social sciences and humanities. The highest D:R ratio of all is for the most ideological field: interdisciplinary studies. I could not find a single Republican with an exclusive appointment to fields like gender studies, Africana studies, and peace studies.

Another study showed the ratio as low as 2.5:1.

That is to say, the more rigorous the field, the less partisan, generally speaking. We of course have to be anal about causality, but I think the connection here speaks for itself.

(Life Pro Tip: never in a million years do a college/university degree that ends with the word "studies." It's a guaranteed way to simultaneously waste large quantities of money and get taught in the ways of ranting against the supposedly evil capitalist system.)

When it comes to financial prospects, economics does pretty good for itself. They make the most because they're the most marketable. Keep in mind that, in all likelihood, private sector economists make more on average than academic economists.

Economics is also the most insular and consensus-heavy social science (in the latter case, history is a possible exception). The contents of your economics textbook in the US are the exact same as Canadian textbooks, which are the exact same as European textbooks, Scandinavian textbooks, and so on. I kid you not, my Canadian micro textbook talks about the inefficiencies and objective unfairness of minimum wage laws as a price floor above equilibrium, not that this should be taken as a political argument against minimum wage.

The more I think about it, the more I realize economics is less a social science and more a data science under the guise of a social science. When you take micro 101 and learn about supply and demand, you think, "Oh, this is just civics with graphs." Then you get to more advanced classes and realize those supply and demand lines are just regression lines plotted over a bunch of data points. It's really just applied math.

So, yeah.

Economics is based and cool. Sociology is cringe and not-so-cool.

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