I recently asked a professor if he was planning on hiring a research assistant for next semester. I thought I'd be a pretty good candidate since I have decent experience using STATA, SAS, SPSS, R Studio and Mathematica, but he started asking me about a couple programs I had never heard of before. That led me to wonder what are the most commonly used programs for Economics. A friend of mine suggested I also look into Matlab and Python.
From my experience (buy-side economist role),
Excel is popular for equity financial modeling and corporate finance, but C++ / R are dominated in financial engineering / quants field
SPSS is more popular in other social science field as it is not really good at dealing with time series (major part of my work) in my opinion
SAS is good for huge set of data due to its unique memory management... but Eviews can handle most of situation in my case (unlike financial data, what we face with economic data is a lack of observation instead of too much data for the memory..)
Python is a fast program but not convenient to implement for daily analysis purpose.. and for the rest you mentioned, they evolve to provide quite similar functions nowadays
There's three important dimensions for programs/languages:
In terms of frequency of usage among academic economists, here's my ranking:
This list is of course my personal opinion, and for academic economists only. I believe that no one will dispute the top tier, but the second tier/specialists can be somewhat debated. And then there's some more who are even more specialist (for example, Octave as a open source Matlab alternative)
This really depends on your school or profession as to what is most prevalent.
Professors at my school seem to use mostly Matlab and Stata. Some subjects even require GAUSS, which I had never heard of before. There is also some python involved.
In my experience (anecdotal), the finance sector uses excel a lot.
To add to the anecdotal evidence collection, I also have experienced that Stata is the most standard stats software.
EViews is another option.
As for other programs, beside statistical analysis software, LaTeX is a programming language used to format documents for presentation.
A whole lot of paid and free stuff exists for almost everything required for economics analysis.
I’m not an environmental guy, but you may start your quest to guess what your professor meant by visiting this link (among hundreds alike).
For more detailed treatment, see a book.
Thanks for the occasion to reflect the issue. Hope that helps.