Economics is a social science that seeks to analyze and describe the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth. As academic disciplines go, it is quite young: the first major book of Economics was not published until 1776 -- it was Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.
The most primitive hunter-gatherer band has an economy but, because the discipline begins with the study of trading societies, its most detailed and precise work has dealt with the institutions belonging to them. Modern economics tends to discuss earlier forms of social organization chiefly in terms of their transition to societies based on the exchange of commodities.
One of the guiding ideas in Economics is scarcity. Almost everything is scarce; there are too few resources to satisfy all of humanity. It's not only the poor who feel deprived; even those better well-off seem to want more. It is the economist's job to evaluate the choices that exist for the use of those resources.
A more modern aspect of Economics is the concept of incentives, which guide the choices made by economic agents.
The traditional major divisions of Economics include Microeconomics, which deals with the behaviour of individual consumers, companies, traders, and farmers; and Macroeconomics, which focuses on aggregates such as the level of income in an economy, the volume of total employment, and the flow of investment. Another branch, Development Economics, investigates the history and changes of economic activity and organization over a period of time, as well as their relation to other activities and institutions. Within these three major divisions there are specialized areas of study that try to answer questions on a broad spectrum of human economic activity, including public finance, money supply and banking, international trade, labor, industrial organization, and Agriculture. The areas of investigation in Economics overlap with other social sciences like Political Science, but Economics focuses on relations between buyer and seller or within markets for those actors.
History of Economics -- Microeconomics -- Macroeconomics -- Development Economics -- Recession -- inflation -- Market forms -- Keynesian economics -- Austrian School -- Finance -- factors of production -- economics of information
What are our priorities for writing in this area? To help develop a list of the most basic topics in Economics, please see Economics basic topics.