Skip to main content


Go Search
New Atlas
Atlas, A-Z
Atlas Maps
MPP/MPA Programs
Core Topics
Illustrative Courses
Topic Encyclopedia
Concept Dictionary
Career Tips
Best Practices Project

PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > D, E > Economics


The branch of social science that examines the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

(Princeton University's Wordnetweb)


Garver and Hansen (cited in Lekachman 1967, 70) state that, "economics is the study of the price and value aspects of human activities and institutions. This very general definition is broad enough to cover every phase of economic life, and it is applicable to economic activity in a system of private property, state socialism, or communism."

Whereas Samuelson (cited in Lekachman 1967, 70) defines economics as dealing with various issues such as:"What kinds of jobs are there to do? What do they pay? How much in goods will a dollar of wages buy now, and how much in a time of galloping inflation? What are the chances that a time will come when a man will not be able to get any suitable work within a reasonable period?

Economics also deals with political decisions each citizen must face: Will the government add to my taxes to help unemployed miners, or are there other things it can do to help mitigate the problem of unemployment? Should I vote to build a new school and road now, or vote to put this aside until business slackens and cement prices come down and jobs ate needed? Should I vote to keep married women out of public employment, so there will be more jobs for men? Will automation in factories lead to starvation wages and surplus workers? What about antitrust legislation that purports to fight monopolies?"


Lekachman, Richard. 1967. The Age of Keynes. London: Allen Lane the Penguin Press.



Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance