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Beginner · Course · 1-3 Months
Microeconomics is the branch of economics that studies the decision-making of individual people or companies within a market under conditions of scarcity - which is to say, limited money or other resources. This is in contrast to macroeconomics, which seeks to understand aggregated groups of economic actors at the state, country, or global level.
Microeconomics is important as a tool to help businesses understand consumer behavior as well as the calculus of competitors. For example, microeconomics is the foundation of pricing theories that help companies set optimal prices for their products, or it could help anticipate how changing interest rates are likely to affect investment decisions of other businesses. And, while the theories of microeconomics are not new, the ability to apply data analysis techniques to vast datasets about the behavior of individuals and companies has helped to deepen the insights that microeconomics can produce.
Amidst these advances in the field, microeconomics orthodoxy is often challenged from a variety of perspectives. In contrast to the classical model of supply and demand balancing to create efficient pricing in a “perfect” market, the field of behavioral economics has drawn out the ways cognitive biases and other “irrational” economic actions frequently drive decision-making. Conventional microeconomics may also ignore environmental or social externalities, which are impacts on parties outside an economic transaction that are not reflected in prices.
Despite these shortcomings, an understanding of microeconomic theory is still a fundamental starting point to describing market behavior - even if your goal is to highlight market imperfections or other ways that conventional theory fails in the real world.
Microeconomics is a perennially popular field of study for a reason; it is essential to running a business. A background in this field can be helpful for any role concerned with ensuring a company’s competitiveness and profitability, such as marketing analysts, operations managers, financial officers, and chief executives. Thus, microeconomics is a prerequisite for any bachelor’s degrees in business, as well as masters in business administration (MBA).
However, those wishing to dive deeper into the nuts and bolts of this discipline may wish to become a full-time economist responsible for analyzing data, studying trends, and developing new theories of microeconomics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, economists earn a median annual salary of $105,020, and typically have a masters degree or even a doctorate in this field.
Yes. Coursera has a wealth of courses and Specializations in business, including courses in microeconomics and related topics in consumer behavior, econometrics, and business analysis. You can learn remotely on a flexible schedule from top-ranked institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California Irvine, and the University of Illinois. And, because tuition for courses on Coursera is much lower than for the same courses attended by on-campus students, you don’t need to be an expert in microeconomics to understand the excellent value online learning offers.
Having strong analytical and critical thinking skills can help you learn microeconomics, as they enable you to conduct research, apply theories, and look for trends in data. If you have previously taken coursework in geometry, you should be able to apply concepts like logical deduction to your study of microeconomics. You also may encounter situations that require an understanding of slope and fractional equations, but math skills tend to be less important than analytical skills when learning microeconomics. Some experience in business, specifically marketing, price setting, and human resources can be useful as you learn microeconomics.
People best suited for roles in microeconomics are interested in exploring the ways people use resources, which can be anything from money to fossil fuels to suitable marriage partners. They have strong research and analytical skills that they put to work studying economic theories, interpreting data, and applying their knowledge to real world situations. Looking for patterns and trends in data comes easily to people best suited for roles in microeconomics. They tend to have a natural curiosity about human behavior, especially the relationship between society and how humans respond to fluctuations in supply and demand of limited resources.
If you're interested in understanding how individuals and businesses make decisions and exploring how they respond to the consequences of those decisions, learning microeconomics may be right for you. You can study topics like supply and demand, comparative advantage, and scarcity along with how they drive behavior in individuals and organizations. Many of these principles can be applied to a variety of fields, including education, health, agriculture, and public policy. A knowledge of microeconomics can be beneficial if you're thinking of pursuing a career in one of these fields, are considering starting a business, or want to apply microeconomics principles to your personal decision-making process.