Are Economics Majors A Declining Species?

Economics may be the dismal science, as Thomas Carlyle observed, but at least during the 1980s that didn't deter the interest of college students. Between the 1979-80 and 1989-90 academic years, the number of bachelor's degrees awarded to economics majors in the U.S. rose from 16,409 to 23,923, and their share of all BAs grew from 1.9% to 2.3%.

Now, however, the tide appears to have turned. The number of economics BAs fell 1.8% in 1990-91, and according to a recent survey of 127 colleges and universities by economists John J. Siegfried of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Charles E. Scott of Loyola College in Baltimore, it plummeted by 14.2% in 1992-93.

The sudden decline in economics degrees is a bit of a puzzle, but it shouldn't dishearten students majoring in the subject. Since business values a knowledge of economics, their competitive position in the job market should improve.

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