Overview of Economics

Introduction

Let's face it: If there's one fundamental principle guiding life on earth, it's scarcity. There simply aren't enough beachfront houses, luxury cars, and seats at the theater for everyone who wants one! And on a more serious note, there's not enough food, clothing, and medical care for everyone who needs it.

The entire discipline of economics—and all economic activity—arises from a scarcity of goods and services in comparison to human wants and needs. If there is not enough of something for everyone who wants or needs it, society faces a serious problem: How do we decide who gets that something and who goes without it?

Throughout history there have always been people who obtained what they wanted or needed by force. The barbarians who sacked Rome practiced this form of “economic activity,” and in modern times it is practiced by armed robbers. But a society worthy of the name requires an orderly system of producing and distributing the necessities and luxuries of life. Such a system is essential to a stable society. Economics is the study of systems of production and distribution—which are called economies—and of their fundamentals, dynamics, and results.

This section introduces the science of economics and examines various ways in which societies organize their economies. It also introduces several important economists and explains their ideas, which lead to major schools of economic thought.

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Economics © 2003 by Tom Gorman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

highlights

Bug Off! 6 Tick- and Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Which bug bites are dangerous? Learn about 6 diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes, the signs and symptoms, and treatment options if someone in your family gets infected.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, brought to you by Galactic Hot Dogs.

Top 10 Backyard Party Games for All Ages
Looking for some fun outdoor games for your Fourth of July party or barbecue? Check out these awesome group games, from sack races to cornhole, to make your backyard a kid-friendly party spot!

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks