The thing is that I am writing a scholarship essay and one of the questions asks me to list my career goals and suggests as to how would the college where I am applying for the scholarship to would help me achieve these career goals. So my career goal is that I want to pursue research in Economics and publish papers. But I want to connect with the fact that I am very much interested in Mathematics and also participate in a lot of community service projects. I, therefore, want to write about an area of Economics something like Econometrics or Quantitative Finance which bears a strong relation to above-mentioned themes because then I will be able to elaborate on how the college offers a strong program in these areas and that this would, in turn, would help me succeed in my career.

PS. (1) I don't want to hint that I intend to make lots of money. So may be Quant is out.

PS. (2) A list of courses can be viewed on this link (http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/calendar/programmeRegulations/undergraduate/BScEconomics.htm).

  • $\begingroup$ On the other hand I am very curious to see if someone has a good answer to this. But I think you need to define 'directly helping the people' because as it is now that can mean pretty much anything. (Is a grocer helping the people by selling them food at reasonable prices?) $\endgroup$ – Giskard Mar 4 '17 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @ thank you for your comments. The thing is that there are certain areas in Economics such as Development Economics that are percieved to be striving towards improving people's lives, whereas others such as Quantitative Finance seem to be more involved in money making and less of improving the quality of human life. $\endgroup$ – model_checker Mar 4 '17 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know if Development Economics involves a lot of Mathematics. Because if it does then I would readily use it. $\endgroup$ – model_checker Mar 4 '17 at 21:17

Some ideas based on the course list:

  • Environmental economics is doing work to try to understand and mitigate the effects of climate change. Key concepts in this debate, such as common action problems and externalities will feature in EC325 Public Economics.

  • Game theory is used as a basis for auction theory, which plays a major role in the design of important auctions. Auctions are used, for example, to sell licenses to companies wishing to use the radio spectrum. You can read more about spectrum auctions here.

  • The market design/matching markets idea is a good one with some real practical applications. For a basic intro, take a look at section 20.5 of this free book. In particular, there is a neat video by Alvin Roth, who won the Nobel prize for work in this area.

  • Development economics studies the process by which countries do (or don't) escape from poverty and can help us to understand what sorts of policy interventions are likely to be helpful.

  • Industrial economics (also known as industrial organisation) helps us to understand how competition in markets works (and when it doesn't work). The insights from this field underpin the work of organisations such as the Competition and Markets Authority (the UK's competition regulator) in ensuring that markets deliver good outcomes for consumers. You can read more about competition policy here.


The New England kidney exchange program cofounded by Alvin Roth, based on the theory of stable matching, has enabled hundreds of patients awaiting kidney transplantation to receive kidney donations that they would otherwise unlikely to get.

The theoretical underpinning of this program is indeed heavily mathematical, and the program indeed helped a lot of people ("helped" here is really an understatement, it saved people's lives). So I'd say the field of market/mechanism design is an example satisfying your criteria.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi, thank you for your answer. I was wondering what courses are required in order to specialize in market design. On the internet, I found that Game Theory and Micro Economics. Anymore requirement you'd like to add? $\endgroup$ – model_checker Mar 5 '17 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Supermario micro and game theory are necessary, and each could involve a sequence of courses. To supplement, you could also take field (or directed readings) courses that cover topics in contract theory, industrial organization, mechanism design, auction theory etc. $\endgroup$ – Herr K. Mar 5 '17 at 16:37

To answer your question is very challenging, because 'directly helping the people' is pretty normative. Would you like the creation of 50.000 new workplaces with lowering the corporation taxation? Or how about finding a great financial investment for a nice old lady? Would you prefer large scale policy work or completely changing the life of an individual? Our economic system is so complex, you couldn't do any jobs without helping the society.

Furthermore, economics is all about trade-offs. There are quite few Pareto efficient situations out there in the real life. For example, the Scandinavian societies are the most socially mobile in the world. The redistribution role of the state is super-high, and the job market policies apply wage-compression. Therefore, the income gap between the rich and poor is really small. However, these policies are helping people, but it's unfair to highly-productive and educated.

However, here are my additional tips. Assuming that you are interested in large scale impact:

  • economic model developing (micro and macro). I don't need to emphasize the importance of these fields.
  • transport economics. People travel and commute. More efficient transport networks would improve the life of everybody. Heavy mathematics (graph theory, optimization) and programming, plus economics are needed.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.