Economists study the social problems related to the production, distribution, and use of goods and services, as these arise from behavior within evolving, adaptive institutions such as markets, business firms, and governmental agencies. These problems typically are very complex and do not have any easy, simple solutions that can command universal acceptance.
Some of these problems primarily pertain to parts of the economy such as particular industries and markets; this is the province of microeconomics. Those studying this branch of economics are concerned with such matters as household and industrial behavior, the effects of different systems of taxation, and the public regulation of industries. In contrast, macroeconomics is concerned with problems such as unemployment and inflation that have to do with entire economic systems.
The aim of both types of inquiry is to deepen public understanding of the origins, incidence, and consequences of the relevant social problems (including the dilemmas encountered in trying to deal with them) so as to further the development of policies for their alleviation.
This work goes forward, as in all sciences, by the careful construction of theoretical models and their empirical testing using economic data. In all of this research there are abundant opportunities for the fruitful application of the tools not only of mathematics and statistics but also of psychology, political science, sociology, and geography. Moreover, economists sometimes rely on the help of historians in developing and testing theories by examination of the experience of past societies.
At this time, UW-Platteville does not offer either a major or minor in economics. Nevertheless, the economics program at UW-Platteville offers courses that play a vital role in majors such as business and accounting, social sciences comprehensive, education, and computer science.