Top Career Paths: Public Economics and Economic Policy
If you're doing a degree in economics with a specialisation in public economics or economic policy, you might be thinking about what career you would eventually like to pursue. Here below are some of the top careers paths for graduates in this area. For a comprehensive list of available jobs check our jobs section.
Economist for a governmental advisory organisation
As part of a governmental advisory body, you can use your knowledge of economic policy to help the state in its economic planning and execution. Government projects typically involve working in large, interdisciplinary teams, and are often long-term, lasting years or more. For this reason, this kind of work is suited to people who are patient and able to grapple with complexity. If you derive satisfaction from getting things done, then this might be frustrating for you because of the long timescales involved. You'll also need solid communication skills to work alongside the other members of your team, whose expertise may be in a different area of economics or in another discipline altogether.
Policy advisor to a state representative
Similar to working for an advisory body, representatives such as members of parliament also need advising on economic policies. In Britain, for example, MPs are advised by the Civil Service. These jobs are hard to get and require you to work your way up through the ranks, but they have excellent stability and good benefits, so they are suited to someone who is looking for a long-term career and doesn't want to change jobs every few years.
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Outside of the civil service, plenty of state representatives will need advice on economic policy too. You could work as a consultant, consulting for decision makers such as city counsellors. This kind of work can be very rewarding as, unlike national policy, local policies can be put into place more quickly, and you can see the direct outcome of your work on a community. This kind of work requires the ability to explain complex economic systems and possible policy outcomes in a way which makes sense to non-economists.
Work for a think tank e.g. Economic Policy Institute
Think tanks promote approaches or advocate for policies, including in the area of economics. The Economic Policy Institute, for example, raises awareness about the needs of low-income workers in the US and how they are affected by economic policies. This work requires a thorough knowledge of economics, but also a commitment to the mission. For people who have strongly held moral principles about economic policy and care about actively working to promote those principles, working in a think tank is ideal. However, this type of work is often not well paid and the hours can be long, so you should be prepared for that. But if you are an activist by nature, then combining your passion with your economics knowledge can make you an excellent candidate for working in a think tank.
International organisations e.g. UN or The World Bank
Another option is working for a large international organisation which will have some interest in economic policy, such as the UN or the World Bank. This work will, like government work, often be long-term and slow in pace, and require you to work in an interdisciplinary team. It is suited to someone who is culturally sensitive and aware of cultural differences around the world. It can be good for those who like to travel to new places, as the work may include field trips or relocations to places around the world. This can be difficult for people who like to be settled or those who have a family but can be good for those who enjoy travelling to new places. It can also help to speak several languages for this kind of work.
For more careers advice for economists, as well as postings about jobs opportunities, study advice, and lots more, see our website at INOMICS.COM.
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How to balance your PhD and your social life
Treat your PhD like a regular job One of the challenges of adjusting to life as a PhD student is the lack of a firm schedule or a definite structure. Although there are options for structured PhD programs, especially in the US, many PhD programs do not have required coursework or set work times. This can make it hard to know when you should be working, and conversely, when you are allowed to take time off.
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Candidates can find more information in our guide on how to successfully apply to a PhD in Economics. For institutions aiming to find the best international talent for their PhD positions, the most important question is how to reach the right audience, primarily current master’s students. You don’t want to waste all your budget chasing after the wrong candidates.
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5 key differences between American- and European-style PhD programs
This piece primarily focuses on the differences and similarities between economics PhD programs on the two sides of the Atlantic. I later discuss how an economics PhD is organized in other parts of the world, as many other countries have modeled their PhD programs on one of these two styles. Program duration The most striking difference between an American and European economics PhD is the expected duration of the program.