Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Is An Economist?

Over at EconLog Bryan Caplan wonders exactly what "economics" means.  I will be teaching Introduction to Agricultural Economics for the first time this fall, and necessarily must address this question.  Caplan points to the fact that in many facets the term "sociologist" is more appropriate for the research we conduct than "economist."  In ag econ, I would argue that "management" might be an appropriate substitute also. Many ag econ departments in fact call themselves agribusiness departments, and most of our students obtain agribusiness degrees.

In my textbook I gave the standard definition "study of the allocation of scarce resources" but quickly told the reader that this definition should not mean much to them.  Instead, I informed the reader about the questions we address.  In my field, these questions are questions of management and sociology.

Fortunately, we do not need to provide students with a good definition. Frankly, they don't care.