Why I Majored in Economics

Jingyi Cui ‘20

I committed to Economics at the end of my sophomore year, without taking a single class in the major during my first year. Before then, I had considered majoring in Classics and Applied Math. My experience in a diversity of disciplines convinced me that economics gives me the most freedom and best tools to explore the world that we live in.

This semester, I am deriving equations about firms’ competitive responses in one class, discussing financial crises in former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Dr. Rakesh Mohan’s class, and tracing the economic impact of railroads in Europe in yet another class. And I will remember for decades to come the problem set sessions over food and banter at Hopper buttery every Tuesday night for my intermediate microeconomics class, and the legendary economics professors who take genuine interest in students.

Economics is often understandably confused with finance. But for me, the major is the perfect embodiment of a liberal arts education. It has trained me to root my arguments in quantitative evidence, to contemplate concrete solutions to world’s biggest problems, and to be an informed and responsible global citizen.

Rachel Diaz '20

I initially decided to major in Economics seeking an explanation for the massive income inequality in my native city of Miami. Being a low income, first generation immigrant student myself, I wanted a career path that would help me understand and improve my community’s circumstances while allowing me the flexibility to choose how I would go about doing so. After completing my associates degree in community college back home, I made the decision to continue majoring in economics after transferring to Yale. This was because I realized the major gave me a ready-to-use toolkit for the analysis of a broad range of interrelated issues such as public health, public policy, and the study of decision making, amongst other topics.

While I had been consistently told I might be better off studying finance for a more practical degree, it was at Yale that I realized Economics was the ideal liberal arts major that connected nearly every subject I had studied thus far. Taking intermediate microeconomics with Professor Chalioti introduced me to the beauty of studying behavior and decision making with numeric concepts, preparing me for my subsequent Economics of Innovation and Behavioral Economics courses. Health Economics with Professor Foreman explained the history and current status of Healthcare in the U.S. in a neutral, comprehensive manner that allowed me to truly target the benefits and shortcomings of our current system. 

My courses prepared me to conduct Health Economics & Outcomes Research in a subsequent internship and led me to question statistical assumptions I would have never before considered, making me a more careful reader and a more prepared decision maker. This allowed for a greater understanding of political messages, helped me gauge the realistic outcomes of policy proposals, pushed me to consider the domino effect of decision making and prepared me to predict long-term effects in both large and small scale environments. With my Economics preparation, I was trained to consider both sides of any argument and keep in mind confounding factors I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. This led to more nuanced analyses and pushed me to consider widely applicable solutions as opposed to isolated answers that fail to consider the fallout common in our increasingly interconnected world. 

Hersh Gupta '20

Coming into college, I saw Economics as a helpful tool to better understand my core interests in political history and policymaking. Initially, I saw EP&E as the ideal nexus of my academic interests, and didn’t give much thought to the Economics major outside of the few core classes I would be able to count towards EP&E. 

As I began to look more closely at the possibilities within the Economics department itself, I realized that the department satisfied the diversity of coursework I hoped to achieve through a major in EP&E. Whether exploring my passion for policymaking through Professor English’s “Monetary Policy” seminar, or Professor Schott’s “International Trade” course, or delving deeper into politics through Professor Halac’s “Game Theory” lecture, I’ve found an incredibly diverse range of opportunities all packaged neatly within the Economics department.

I would be remiss not to highlight that the Economics department is one of the largest and most popular departments at Yale, which in turn fuels an especially strong network of peers. Late nights hashing out answers to the classic Intermediate Micro psets inevitably creates long-lasting friendships, which remain some of my closest to this day.