Behavioural economics combines economic thought with cognitive psychology to explain human behaviour, especially in the realm of business and finance. This branch of economics has its roots in the 1940s when economist Herbert Simon offered the idea of bounded rationality, contending that reason alone was not sufficient to explain human decisions and actions. This combination of economics and human psychology has multiple career applications in business and education.
Behavioural economists study why people save, buy, borrow and even prefer Brand A to Brand B. All of these issues interest the market research specialist. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2008 that job opportunities for market researchers will grow 28 per cent by 2018, higher than the rate for other occupations. The best job opportunities will exist for people with advanced degrees and strong quantitative skills, but the bureau reported that people with social science training and an interest in consumer behaviour may find opportunities as well. Men and women with advanced degrees in economics, specialising in behavioural economics, may bring an ideal combination of knowledge and skills to the field of market research.
Financial analysts use in-depth research and statistical analysis to guide the investment decisions of individuals and institutions. "Decision Science News" reported in 2007 that financial services companies such as mutual fund giant Fidelity increasingly apply behavioural economics to help investors make successful choices at a time when individuals bear a greater responsibility for their own financial security. Because individuals must increasingly make crucial investment decisions, such as choosing mutual funds for their 401(k) accounts, financial analysts with sound business and analytical knowledge, as well as a background in behavioural economics, can help guide investors' decisions.
Economists work in colleges and universities, consulting firms, think tanks and government agencies. Most economist jobs require an advanced degree -- usually a doctorate. Ph.D. economists who specialise in behavioural economics can apply their knowledge to teaching and research, analysis of public policy alternatives, and collect and analyse the economic and financial data collected by the government.
Management analysts and consultants study organizational operations, looking for ways to help companies and agencies operate more profitably and efficiently. Management consultants must not only understand economic and business principles, but also understand human resource issues and work well with people. Behavioural economics, by combining human behaviour with economic knowledge, may provide ideal training for a career in management consulting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported faster-than-average growth in management consultant jobs by 2018.
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