Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Speaking of economics

As a field of study, it's in growth mode:

Colleges and universities in the United States awarded 16,141 degrees to economics majors in the 2003-2004 academic year, up nearly 40 percent from five years earlier, according to John J. Siegfried, an economics professor at Vanderbilt University.. . . The number of students majoring in economics has been rising even faster at top colleges. At New York University, for example, the number of econ majors has more than doubled in the past ten years. At nearly 800, it is now the most popular major. (from Jessica E. Vascellaro, "The Hot Major for Undergrads Seeking High Pay Is Economics," via encarta.msn.com

And as economics' star has risen, what's fallen are the "soft" sciences of sociology, political science, history.

On the one hand, as the title of this piece suggests, students are gravitating toward economics because graduates in the field get good jobs. And on the other hand, according to this article, it's even considered a cool track, if the success of Steven Levitt'sFreakonomics can be generalized to that conclusion.

So whether to see this as a promising trend--more people with more understanding of the workings of the global economy!--or merely more of the same--most people going where the money is? A bit of both, of course (isn't that always the answer to these killer dichotomies?).

Surprised me, though, I have to admit.

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