Example Economics Personal Statement
My wish to study economics has grown out of an increasing interest in current affairs in the media, and my growing sense that most things in the public world come down to considerations of finance. I am deeply interested in how the world “works”, and the way that politics is so deeply intermeshed with economic realities and the availability of resources. Economics is intriguing because it offers ways of predicting future events and a system of “laws” like a science, and yet it is not exactly the same as a science because of the uncertainty that is central to any analysis of human behaviour. It also has the attraction of immediate relevance. The present economic crisis is momentous, with wealthy countries suddenly, in a few months, coming to the edge of bankruptcy, and the new economies of Asia suffering the disappearance of the markets that have given them prosperity. To work in this field, and to run a business equipped with a sound knowledge of economics, seems to me to be of the utmost human importance and offers great professional satisfaction.
The economics I have already studied has given me a good insight into the way the subject affects our lives. The May general election appeared to me to be a sort of contest between the “Classical” and “Keynesian” theories. I have read widely in the subject, including books by Niall Ferguson, Robert Skidelsky and John Cassidy (How Markets Fail), Dasgupta’s Economics. A Short Introduction, Kay’s The Truth About Markets and Joseph Stiglitz’s Globalisation and its Discontents, and I read The Economist regularly. I am keen to study the ways that consumers behave, how monopolies distort markets, and the balance between markets and human welfare. I am also interested in macroeconomic issues such as the interaction of the main sectors of the economy – production, finance and the labour market. The amount of money in the economy, the way aggregate spending is determined and its relation to supply are fascinating questions. There is much to learn and the concepts are complicated, but the interest, both intellectual and human, is consuming.
I have some experience of the world of business economics; I had a placement as an assistant manager at “Kazakh Altyn”, a joint stock company dealing in mining and metallurgy, where I worked in the international affairs department. I was involved in financial modelling with a group of experts, and I wrote translations of papers from Russian into English. I sat in on company meetings and observed the formulation of company policies. It was a thrilling taste of the reality of the world of big business and international economics. I also had a brief internship at the Kazakh Embassy in London, working as an assistant to the ambassador and writing translations of papers. It was exciting to be at the heart of international affairs in this way, and helped me to develop my communication skills and my ability to work with others in a team.
At school I had a very active life. I attended the after-school economics workshop, where we discussed current affairs and argued about economic theories. I was also a keen sportsman, playing football and rugby for the school team, which was good training in self-discipline and cooperation. I also worked in a drama competition as a director and actor.
I am polylingual, having Kazakh as my mother tongue, and fluent Russian and English, a great asset in the modern globalised business environment. The career options open to someone equipped with an economics degree seem immensely diverse and thus very attractive. Economics is a subject that I feel touches on nearly all human activities in some way, from political decisions to questions of household management and planning how we as individuals wish to live. I have a good academic record, and can promise to make a great success of a degree course, and I hope you will consider my application.
This example Economics personal statement should be used as a point of reference when composing your personal statement on your path to university education.
It seems that applying economics can elucidate any subject. Just one example of a problem facing the world is the tide of war-displaced refugees making their way to Europe. They risk their lives for the opportunities of our economic system. I recently visited a Calais refugee camp, hoping to learn about their motivations and intentions. Hearing their struggles and hopes reinforced that there is no easy solution to their problems. Yet if any academic discipline can improve this situation, it must be economics. I realised how much we take our own economic system and security for granted, and I am interested in finding out more how it functions, and how similar or better systems might be implemented elsewhere. Only by analysing and understanding our decisions and actions can we improve future outcomes.
Reading Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and The Olive tree has helped me to understand the world economy’s current state - how countries have developed at wildly different rates, yet are linked at on scale never before seen. Michael Lewis’ The Big Short made me aware of our system’s flaws: it was disconcerting how the expansionary monetary policy discussed at A-level could have led to the 2007 financial crisis.
I have found economics as useful in analysing the past as the present. Last year I linked my economics studies with my EPQ in History. I addressed whether the ‘wonder weapons’- a series of radical German weapons World War Two - helped or hindered the German war effort. I analysed economic data to quantify the wonder weapons’ effects, and thus the wisdom of the German leaders in choosing to deploy them. I placed particular emphasis on the weapons’ opportunity cost, and calculated that with the money invested in the programmes (2% of German GDP), a more effective war could have been waged with conventional weapons. This mismanagement prompted me to think about how economics might be applied more effectively to real situations. I had my first taste of an economics-related career as an intern analyst at Standard Chartered bank, where I compiled a report analysing the Indian Airline Industry. I assessed the prospects of each carrier, and presented to the team I was working with. I enjoyed using economic data to draw conclusions about the market. I developed my skills in research, analysis, presentation and collaboration. It was satisfying when I recently read that Indigo - the airline I had concluded would profit best from India’s rising middle class - was filing for India’s largest IPO in four years.
I am also interested in the factors affecting our personal decisions. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed books on behavioural economics, such as Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, and Richard Thaler’s Misbehaving. Kahneman’s revealing of the logic-gaps in the human thought process was striking. I found the frequency with which we fall foul of our innate biases and assumptions revealing and concerning. A summer job as a sales assistant demonstrated the relevance of these principals. I noticed a management focus on short term goals, and lack of relevant event-framing: for example, managers distilled yearly sales down to what everyone would have to sell per hour- a behaviour Kahneman described as being counterproductive in the long run. Employees were also expected to at least match last year’s sales each month, taking no account of the external variables impacting business.
I hope to use my university study to better understand and explain the behaviour of the markets and those involved in them. I endeavour to examine, question, and learn about the principles that explain and influence our actions. The interest and skills I have developed have equipped me to delve further into the subject, and make the most utility of my education.