Defining Economics

Read this section to encounter the three fundamental questions that economists face and to learn about opportunity costs. Attempt the problems presented in the "Try It" section, and note how eventually every decision boils down to choosing between competing alternatives.

Learning Objectives

  1. Define economics.
  2. Explain the concepts of scarcity and opportunity cost and how they relate to the definition of economics.
  3. Understand the three fundamental economic questions: What should be produced? How should goods and services be produced? For whom should goods and services be produced?

Economics is a social science that examines how people choose among the alternatives available to them. It is social because it involves people and their behavior. It is a science because it uses, as much as possible, a scientific approach in its investigation of choices.

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