Why do we consider economics to be science?

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From what we have been told, what makes science science is the ability to perform controlled experiments to verify or reject hypotheses. However due to the nature of economics and the fact that there are far too many factors like sociology and psychology to control for, it’s impossible to do controlled experiments in the economy. Why is it considered a branch of science?

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20 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

It shouldn’t and in my oninion it isn’t.

To be fair, they consider history and even f*cking literature to be a science for some godforsaken reason. The problem is that the people who determined that these are sciences either didn’t understand what science is and/or had particular interest in making these things a branch of ‘science’, most probably for funding and career options for those who want to study it (for some reason which I can’t seem to understand).

Tldr: Sciences not studying nature are pseudo.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Economics is a SOCIAL SCIENCE – that being, a branch of science that deals with human behavior. While yes, you cannot run a controlled experiment to say for example, that economic policy X will have Y. You can however build and test models, and probability/statistics is more of a focus than hard results like some of the natural sciences where you’re simply directly measuring something (whether physical or direct cause and effect)

Anonymous 0 Comments

Actually there’s many universities in different countries that only award Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Economics so no it’s not universally regarded as pure science. It’s usually under the faculty of Social Sciences like Politics or Psychology.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not, exactly… it’s not a natural science like chemistry, biology, geology. It’s a social science like political science, psychology, sociology.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Economics is just applied psychology > psychology is just applied biology > biology is just applied chemistry > chemistry is just applied physics > physics is just applied quantum mechanics, etc, etc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The same could be said of any of the social sciences. Do you think they should all be excluded?

Anonymous 0 Comments

For whatever reason, science has been dumbed down to the “informed philosophy” definition. History, psychology (to an extent), literature, etc are conducted sciences because they’ve been analyzed and built upon with a scientific measure. We have looked at things, broke them down to understand them, and can predict future results with them.

Economics is just another form of history, just focused on wealth. It’s also not as “refined” as economists or the media likes to suggest. Every time economists figure out how to solve a problem, everybody else learns how to work around that solution to make more money. Or they pay governments to remove those regulations that fixed the problem.

So, while economics is a very useful tool for understanding what happened and how an economy crashed, it if not very useful at fixing or preventing it from hairbrush again, and is actually more of a social science because of that.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are natural and social sciences, economics is a social science.

Natural science seeks to understand the nature of the world we live in. Social science seeks to understand the society we live in.

Anonymous 0 Comments

As others already noted, it is considered a social science. Not a natural science.

That said, in economics you can often do controlled experiments. You split groups of people, make one a control group, and do an economic intervention for the other. Universal basic incomes is an interesting idea for this. And relatively easier to control for.

Things like the dictator game (more behavioral economics perhaps) and many similar experiments are controlled. But it’s fair to say these things are controlled experiments. Not ideal, not perfect, but they are attempts at such.

Even better, you find a lot of natural experiments. The usa is particularly good for that as different states adopt economic policies (and other policies) in different years. Which helps to tease out the causality more so than in other areas. Abortion is a controversial one as different states legalised abortion in different years and thus you can pull out the economic (and other social) impact of this.

Comparing countries that are roughly similar does the same thing. Again more behavioral economics, but comparing the organ donation of Austria and Germany (as they’re culturally similar) helps keep things ‘all other things being equal’.

In short, you can do many controlled experiments. It may be tougher to pull out other factors (tho many complex statistically regression techniques exist to do so), there is certainly a science to this.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Science isn’t just about controlled experiments. Large portions of biology, physics and geology (to name a few) are done with observational studies rather than experiments.

Economists generate theoretical models of the economy. Most of them include at least one testable hypothesis. Economists rarely conduct lab experiments because doing so is often prohibitively expensive and/or unethical (you can’t screw around with a nations economy just to learn what happens). But there is an insane amount of data to work with.

You’re correct that it can be difficult to interpret economic data. As you pointed out, there are often missing factors. The more subtle problem is that known factors often interact in unexpected ways. It can also be difficult to establish causality.

But there is a whole branch of statistics (called econometrics) that deals with exactly those problems. Those techniques are far from perfect but they have a strong tack record of getting us repeatable results.