Readings in Industrial Economics: Volume One: Theoretical Foundations

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It is worth considering which branches of economics are of interest or where you see your career taking you because this may make deciding what subjects to study easier. If working abroad is of interest then perhaps studying a language would be a good choice, or maybe management if that could help your future career prospects. What can you do with a business and management degree? What can you do with an accounting degree?

What can you do with a mathematics degree? What can you do with a physics degree? What can you do with a law degree? What can you do with a politics degree? The skills developed through studying economics are incredibly versatile and can be employed in a wide range of industries — by the time the course ends an economics graduate will be very comfortable with dealing with numbers as well as experienced in using innovative techniques to overcome problems. They will have developed an analytical mind alongside a strong economic awareness of the world, skills which can be transferred to numerous industries.

A lot of professionals in banking and accountancy hold economics degrees.


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For any career related to finance, an economics degree is a good foundation to build on. Roles in data analysis such as an actuary, or an investment analyst, are typical careers for an economics graduate. An economics graduate will have some unique and highly sought after skills and in most cases, employment prospects are good. A significant proportion of world and business leaders studied economics at university, so economics graduates are in good company.

Some less obvious famous faces who have earned economics degrees include singer Lionel Richie, football manager Arsene Wenger, and comedian Russell Howard.

1. Introduction: What is Economics?

Why study art? Find out what you will learn on an art degree, what you should study to get a place on a university course, and what jobs you might get once you graduate. Chemical engineering requires a range of scientific and analytics skills. The study of chemical engineering will become increasingly more important with the shift towards renewable energy sources.

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Our essential guide to what you will learn on an education course, the subjects you'll need to study to obtain a place on a degree programme and the jobs that will be open to you once you graduate. Join us. Skip to main content. What can you do with an economics degree? March 14 Share on twitter Share on facebook Share on linkedin Share on whatsapp Share on mail 2. See Allais and Hagen and McClennen , A considerable part of rational choice theory is concerned with formalizations of conditions of rationality and investigation of their implications.

Readings In Industrial Economics: Volume One: Theoretical Foundations

This function merely represents the preference ranking. It contains no information beyond the ranking. Such a function has two important properties. First, the expected utility of a lottery is equal to the sum of the expected utilities of its prizes weighted by their probabilities. Second, expected utility functions are unique up to a positive affine transformation. A great deal of controversy surrounds the theory of rationality, and there have been many formal investigations into weakened or amended theories of rationality. Although societies are very different from individuals, they have mechanisms to evaluate alternatives and make choices, and their evaluations and choices may be rational or irrational.

It is not, however, obvious, what principles of rationality should govern the choices and evaluations of society. Transitivity is one plausible condition. It seems that a society that chooses X when faced with the alternatives X or Y , Y when faced with the alternatives Y or Z and Z when faced with the alternatives X or Z either has had a change of heart or is choosing irrationally.

Yet, purported irrationalities such as these can easily arise from standard mechanisms that aim to link social choices and individual preferences. Suppose there are three individuals in the society. Individual One ranks the alternatives X , Y , Z. Individual Two ranks them Y , Z , X.

Individual Three ranks them Z , X , Y. Clearly this is unsettling, but are possible cycles in social choices irrational? Similar problems affect what one might call the logical coherence of social judgments List and Pettit Suppose society consists of three individuals who make the following judgments concerning the truth or falsity of the propositions P and Q and that social judgment follows the majority.

The judgments of each of the individuals are consistent with the principles of logic, while social judgments violate them.

How important is it that social judgments be consistent with the principles of logic? Although social choice theory in this way bears on questions of social rationality, most work in social choice theory explores the consequences of principles of rationality coupled with explicitly ethical constraints. Arrow assumes that both individual preferences and social preferences are complete and transitive and that the method of forming social preferences or making social choices issues in some social preference ranking or social choice for any possible profile of individual preferences.

In addition, Arrow imposes a weak unanimity condition: if everybody prefers X to Y , then Y must not be socially preferred.


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  • Third, he requires that there be no dictator whose preferences determine social preferences or choices irrespective of the preferences of anybody else. Lastly, he imposes the condition that the social preference between X and Y should depend on how individuals rank X and Y and on nothing else. Arrow then proved the surprising result that no method of relating social and individual preferences can satisfy all these conditions! In the sixty years since Arrow wrote, there has been a plethora of work in social choice theory, a good deal of which is arguably of great importance to ethics.

    For example, John Harsanyi proved that if individual preferences and social evaluations both satisfy the axioms of expected utility theory with shared or objective probabilities and that social preferences conform to unanimous individual preferences, then social evaluations are determined by a weighted sum of individual utilities , a.

    When there are instead disagreements in probability assignments, there is an impossibility result: the unanimity condition implies that for some profiles of individual preferences, social evaluations will not satisfy the axioms of expected utility theory Hammond , Seidenfeld, et al.

    For further discussion of social choice theory and the relevance of utility theory to social evaluation, see the entry on social choice theory , Sen and for recent reappraisals Fleurbaey and Adler Although the principles of rationality governing individual choice still apply, arguably there are further principles of rationality governing expectations of the actions of others and of their expectations concerning your actions and expectations, and so forth.

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    Game theory occupies an increasingly important role within economics, and it is also relevant both to inquiries concerning rationality and inquiries concerning ethics. For further discussion see the entries on game theory , game theory and ethics , and evolutionary game theory.

    As discussed above in Section 2. Yet the same economists also offer their advice concerning how to fix the economy, and there is a whole field of normative economics. Economic outcomes, institutions, and processes may be better or worse in several different ways. Some outcomes may make people better off. Other outcomes may be less unequal. Others may restrict individual freedom more severely. Economists typically evaluate outcomes exclusively in terms of welfare.

    2. Six central methodological problems

    This does not imply that they believe that only welfare is of moral importance. They focus on welfare, because they believe that economics provides an excellent set of tools to address questions of welfare and because they hope that questions about welfare can be separated from questions about equality, freedom, or justice.

    As sketched below, economists have had some things to say about other dimensions of moral appraisal, but welfare takes center stage. One central question of moral philosophy has been to determine what things are intrinsically good for human beings. This is a central question, because all plausible moral views assign an important place to individual welfare or well-being. This is obviously true of utilitarianism which holds that what is right maximizes total or average welfare , but even non-utilitarian views are concerned with welfare, if they recognize the virtue of benevolence, or if they are concerned with the interests of individuals or with avoiding harm to individuals.

    There are many ways to think about well-being, and the prevailing view among economists has shifted from hedonism which takes the good to be a mental state such as pleasure or happiness to the view that welfare should be measured by the satisfaction of preferences. A number of prominent economists are currently arguing for a return to hedonism, but they remain a minority. See Bavetta et al.

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    Note that equating welfare with the satisfaction of preferences is not equating welfare with any feeling of satisfaction. If welfare can be measured by the satisfaction of preferences, then a person is better off if what he or she prefers comes to pass, regardless of whether that occurrence makes the agent feel satisfied. Since mainstream economics attributes a consistent preference ordering to all agents, and since more specific models typically take agents to be well-informed and self-interested, it is easy for economists to accept the view that an individual agent A will prefer X to Y if and only if X is in fact better for A than Y is.

    This is one place where positive theory bleeds into normative theory. In addition, the identification of welfare with the satisfaction of preferences is attractive to economists, because it prevents questions about the justification of paternalism to which most economists are strongly opposed from even arising. Welfare and the satisfaction of preferences may coincide because the satisfaction of preferences constitutes welfare or because people are self-interested and good judges of their own interests and hence prefer what is good for them.