Research in Economics
Examples | Methodology | Student Resources | Glossary | Teacher Resources

Economics Research is a subcategory of Social Sciences Research.

  • Read the description and explore the various fields of economic research.
  • Study the examples to see what others have done.
  • Navigate through the Steps to plan your methodology.
  • Use the Student Resources to assist in carrying out your research.

According to Vanderbilt University, Economics is the study of how people choose to use resources including time and talent people have available, the land, buildings, equipment, and other tools on hand, and the knowledge of how to combine them to create useful products and services.  Important choices involve how much time to devote to work, to school, and to leisure, how many dollars to spend and how many to save, how to combine resources to produce goods and services, and how to vote and shape the level of taxes and the role of government.  

In short, economics includes the study of labor, land, and investments, of money, income, and production, and of taxes and government expenditures.  Economists seek to measure well-being, to learn how well-being may increase overtime, and to evaluate the well-being of the rich and the poor. The most famous book in economics is the Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations written by Adam Smith, and published in 1776 in Scotland.

The following is an adapted list of the fields within Economics from the Journal of Economic Literature.

  • Econometricians develop methods to measure economic phenomena. They apply the scientific method by formulating hypotheses, gathering evidence, and judging whether the evidence is consistent with the hypotheses including game theory which analyzes how one player chooses strategies in light of knowledge of the possible strategies a rival might choose.
  • International Economists study trade among nations and the flow of finance across international borders. Globalization and the deficit in the U.S. balance of payments with other countries are current concerns. 
  • Health, Education, and Welfare Economists focus on the markets and government policies that directly shape access to health care while others focus on schools and educational policies and still others consider the economic circumstances of the poor and evaluate alternative government programs to improve the well-being of the poor. 
  • Economic Systems -- Analysts compare the capital market system to the various forms of socialism and the transition from centrally planned to more market-based economic systems. Economists sometimes address issues in specific countries like China, Cuba, and Poland.

Research paper in the field of economics 

Why are economics students more selfish than the rest?  

Field experiments in economic research

Field experiments in economic research

John List.  Interviewed by Romesh Vaitilingam on 30 April, 2009.  John List of the University of Chicago talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the use of field experiments in economics, including his research on people’s motivation for charitable giving, gender differences in competitiveness, and discrimination in the labor market. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in San Francisco in January 2009.

Find scholarly, published economic research 

Welcome to the largest bibliographic database dedicated to Economics and available freely on the Internet. Over 925'000 items of research can be browsed or searched, and over 800'000 can be downloaded in full text! 

AgEcon Search is a free, open access repository of full-text scholarly literature in agricultural and applied economics

Putting a human face on economic research


Given $50 billion to spend, which would you solve first, AIDS or global warming? Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg comes up with surprising answers. 

General Steps to Follow When Conducting Research in Economics
Step 1 The first step in the process of conducting an economic analysis is to identify appropriate economic indicators for specific economic forecasts or trends. While various indicators may be selected, they are usually classified as indicators that lead, lag, and/or are coincident with economic conditions. 
Step 2

Data collection is accomplished through observation and/or by reviewing measures of economic performance, such as unemployment rates, personal income and expenditures, interest rates, business inventories, gross product by industry, and numerous other economic indicators or indices. Such measures of economic performance may be found in secondary sources such as business, trade, government, and general-interest publications. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), contained in the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides economic information 

Step 3 Prepare surveys to collect data and figure out what the data mean.  
  • Qualitative and Quantitative
  • Descriptive Statistics, regression analysis, Before and After, Case Studies and forecasting
  • Economists develop methods for obtaining the data they need. For example, sampling techniques may be used to conduct a survey, and various mathematical modeling techniques may be used to develop forecasts. Preparing reports, including tables and charts, on research results also is an important part of an economist's job 
Step 4

Economists will examine, assess, and interpret the economic data collected and the subsequent forecast generated from the economic data. Decision makers evaluate the data and forecast for accuracy, try to resolve inconsistencies in the information, and—if it is warranted—assign significance to the findings. 

Step 5 Following data analysis, economists restate their research question, then present their findings and conclusions. A sound methodology requires not only a summary of the findings, but acknowledgement of any weaknesses in the study or the analytical methods. A strong research methodology also involves identifying areas for future research.

Research Engines

Intute logo This online tutorial we will provide a guided tour of some of the key information sources on the Internet for Economics and help you to start collecting your own list of useful websites to explore later
Economics Search Engine

The economics search engine uses a beta version of Google Custom Search Engine to search over 23,000 economics websites and utilizes yolink to mine results and retrieve actionable, keyword-rich content. Results can saved to Google Docs, bookmarked or shared via major social networks.

Scirus Scirus is the most comprehensive scientific research tool on the web. With over 370 million scientific items indexed at last count, it allows researchers to search for not only journal content but also scientists' homepages, courseware, pre-print server material, patents and institutional repository and website information.

General Research Links

Guidelines for Conducting Ethical Socio-Economic Research:

Dr. T's EconLinks provides a directory of links for economists, economics students and anyone interested in economics. The directory compiles the best economics sources available, including links to news, data and analysis. Dr. T also maintains an online economics glossary. is the U.S. government’s official website that provides easy access to data related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse.

BEA logo The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) promotes a better understanding of the U.S. economy by providing the most timely, relevant, and accurate economic accounts data in an objective and cost-effective manner.
Dismal Economic indicators, forecasts, analysis, and data for the world in real-time Comprehensive site providing information on all things economic from the basics to economic issues.
Council for Economics The Council for Economic Education envisions a world in which people are empowered through economic and financial literacy to make informed and responsible choices throughout their lives as consumers, savers, investors, workers, citizens, and participants in our global economy.
Economic Research Welcome to FRED® (Federal Reserve Economic Data), a database of 21,428 U.S. economic time series. With FRED® you can download data in Microsoft Excel and text formats and view charts of data series.

Calculation and data tools 

Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator 
The Sample Size Calculator can be used to determine how many people you need to interview in order to get results that reflect the target population as precisely as needed. You can also find the level of precision you have in an existing sample. 
A comprehensive site of free, easily available economic time series data useful for economic research, in particular economic forecasting. This site (set of web pages) was started in 1996 to help students gain easy access to large amounts of data, and to be able to quickly get charts of that data.
World Bank The World Bank works to bridge this divide and turn rich country resources into poor country growth. One of the world’s largest sources of development assistance, the World Bank supports the efforts of developing country governments to build schools and health centers, provide water and electricity, fight disease, and protect the environment.
Gapminder Since its launch in March 2006, Gapminder World has grown from 16 to over 200 indicators displaying the trends in some cases back to the year 1800. The data in gapminder World is constantly updated and refined. Gapminder World has also been technically improved several times during the last year and new features added.

Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Concepts

EconPort is an economics digital library specializing in content that emphasizes the use of experiments in teaching and research. Content includes teaching modules, a handbook of economic and game theoretic principles and concepts, a glossary of economics terms, and an extensive collection of educational material, as well as software for running

CyberEconomics is an easy-to-read approach to economics with a variety of interactive problems and questions. It not only can be used as the primary textbook for college or advanced high-school principles-of-economics courses, but it provides excellent supplemental material for economics courses using traditional, printed textbooks.

Forecasting in Economics 

A vital challenge confronting economists is how to forecast, especially during a recession because livelihoods depend on those forecasts. This column discusses choosing amongst forecasts and outlines the concerns involved in averaging across models or using general-to-specific model searches.

This section presents quick links to information about several introductory and advanced topics in economics.  Topics are first defined in general terms.  This is followed by a more in-depth discussion.  Relevant experiments that are available, along with links to additional information are also included in each topic discussion.

On-Line Tutorials

This section provides a set of teaching modules intended to aid understanding of economics experiments. Each module covers a specific economic concept, and presents tools to conduct the experiment as well as information about how to present and discuss the results of the experiment.

This section presents quick links to information about several introductory and advanced topics in economics.  Topics are first defined in general terms.  This is followed by a more in-depth discussion.  Relevant experiments that are available, along with links to additional information are also included in each topic discussion.

Opinion-Editorial Pieces in Economics 

The Economist

The Economist online offers authoritative insight and opinion on international news, politics, business, finance, science and technology.

When the dotcom bubble burst, hotelier Chip Conley went in search of a business model based on happiness. In an old friendship with an employee and in the wisdom of a Buddhist king, he learned that success comes from what you count. 


Journals and Periodicals

Organizations and Associations  

Founded in 1920, the National Bureau of Economic Research is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community.

American Economic Association

The American Economic Association was organized in 1885 at a meeting in Saratoga, New York, by a small group interested in economics. It was incorporated in Washington, DC, on February 3, 1923. One of the purposes of the Association is the encouragement of economic research, especially the historical and statistical study of the actual conditions of industrial life.

Center for Economic Policy Center Center for Economic Policy Research helps researchers develop and obtain funding for research, administer and execute these projects and disseminate the results of the research
Rand Corp Research is carried out by five units that address social and economic policy issues; by three federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) that focus on national security; by professors and graduate students at the Pardee RAND Graduate School; and by RAND Europe, an independently chartered European affiliate.
  • The Journal of Economic Literature defines many commonly used economic terms.
  • Dr. T also maintains an online economics glossary.
  • Econometricians develop methods to measure economic phenomena.
  • macroeconomics -The field of economics that studies the behavior of the aggregate economy. Macroeconomics examines economy-wide phenomena such as changes in unemployment, national income, rate of growth, gross domestic product, inflation and price levels.
  • microeconomics - The branch of economics that analyzes the market behavior of individual consumers and firms in an attempt to understand the decision-making process of firms and households.
teacher resources

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