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.

Sienna Gough '19

I came to Yale from a family of engineers, and although I love scientific thinking and math, I knew I wanted a more interdisciplinary field of study. As I worked my way through the core economics requirements, developing a framework to evaluate the implications of various policies and critically analyze news stories, I appreciated how economics tied math and statistics with more qualitative thinking. While no economic model can perfectly describe reality, the major illustrates the power of using various perspectives to assess a wide spectrum of problems.

My coursework very much reflects the diversity of economic applications. Behavioral finance showed how incorporating psychology into models describes asset-pricing anomalies while econometric theory underscored the complexity of isolating causal effects in a constantly changing world. Meanwhile, studying monetary policy imparted insights into how central bankers inform their view of the outlook and the future path for policy.

Taking a step back, it is sobering to recognize that economic policy can affect millions of lives. It has certainly affected me personally. The enriching experiences I have had with my peers, and the supportive and accessible faculty, have shaped my Yale experience and created opportunities that will no doubt shape my future.

Rohit Goyal '19

As a child, I always enjoyed math. But growing up during the Great Recession and its aftermath, I also became interested in the broader challenges and questions that confront our society. When I came to Yale, I hoped to pursue both of these interests through my coursework. I knew little about economics, but I had a hunch I might like it. When I took microeconomics, I was immediately intrigued, as I thoroughly enjoyed learning a set of elegant frameworks that allowed me to grapple with the complexities of real life.

My interest in economics was really fortified when I took Intermediate Macroeconomics with Professor Nordhaus. From our examination of consumption behavior to our study of trade, I relished how the material was a constant interplay between textbook analysis and real-world intuition. I was asked to think at once like a mathematician and historian, scientist and policymaker, surgeon and psychologist. So when the time came to decide on a major, choosing economics was not a tough choice at all. And three years later, that hunch I had as a wide-eyed first-year has proven even truer than I could have imagined.