Economics Terms A-Z - The most important terms in economics.

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Economics Terms A-Z

JEL Codes

JEL Codes are an economics classification system. They were developed by the Journal of Economic Literature to help economists identify what specific topic(s) a paper discusses. As such, the Codes can help people quickly search through economics content to find relevant information. They can also help people make sense of what topic a new paper is really focusing on, if the title is unclear.

JEL Codes have become the standard way to classify economics content. They can be used with papers, articles, dissertations, and even book reviews - essentially anything related to economics can be assigned a JEL Code. Although seldom taught by economics courses, the Codes are widely used by professional economists and are easy to understand. If you are a student of economics and you plan to read journals, conduct research, or study for a PhD, it pays to become familiar with the JEL classification system.

There are twenty different JEL Codes. Each one contains many “sub-codes” as you drill down towards more and more specific topics. For example, JEL Code F is “International Economics”. One of the “sub-codes” under it is F6, “Economic Impacts of Globalization”. Going even further, we finally arrive at F680, which discusses the creation of policies that have been made to deal with the impacts of globalization.

Top-level JEL Code Descriptions:

  • A: General Economics and Teaching: covers general studies of economics, its relations to other disciplines, and the teaching of economics.
  • B: History of Economic Thought, Methodology, and Heterodox Approaches: studies about schools of economic thought and methodologies used, including newer ones being developed.
  • C: Mathematical and Quantitative Methods: includes studies about mathematical, econometric, and other quantitative methods, but not studies that merely use well-established quantitative methods.
  • D: Microeconomics: contains many subcategories that include household behavior and family economics, market structure and pricing, general equilibrium and disequilibrium, welfare economics, select decision-making and behavioral economics topics, and more.
  • E: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics: studies about the performance of an economy, including output, prices, interest rates, employment, and the factors that determine them. Also includes studies on central banking and monetary policy.
  • F: International Economics: includes trade, movement of factors of production, international finance, globalization, national security, international relations, and other topics.
  • G: Financial Economics: contains studies about domestic and international markets for securities such as bonds, stocks, commodities, and futures, and other topics such as corporate finance and studies on financial institutions.
  • H: Public Economics: microeconomics-focused public economics issues that include public goods, government, taxes and subsidies, the effects of fiscal policies on economic agents, and more.
  •  I: Health, Education, and Welfare: related to public economics, but focused on economic development and government policies on welfare, poverty, educational services, and healthcare.
  • J: Labor and Demographic Economics: includes economic studies of marriage, family structure, and other demographic trends, gender economics, racial economics, wages and compensation structure, collective bargaining and unions, labor discrimination, labor contracts and standards, and more.
  • K: Law and Economics: contains studies on property rights and contract enforcement, business laws and regulations, laws on labor, tax, bankruptcy, immigration, and more, and illegal activity such as bribery.
  • L: Industrial Organization: includes topics on market structure, firm strategy and behavior, nonprofit organizations, antitrust policies, industrial regulation and policy, and more specific studies on specific industries like manufacturing or utilities.
  • M: Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics: contains studies on business topics (including many that are not conducted by economists) on topics such as marketing, advertising, accounting, and personnel economics.
  • N: Economic History: these studies analyze events in history or what happened over long periods of time, with particular emphasis on history before 1950.
  • O: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth: contains micro- and macro-economic studies on topics of economic development and growth, developing economies, technological change, innovation, and more.
  • P: Economic Systems: studies capitalist, socialist, and other economic systems and their institutions.
  • Q: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics: includes economic studies on agriculture, natural resources, energy, environment, and ecology.
  • R: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics: studies on real estate, regional economics topics such as spatial distribution of economic activity, transportation networks, regional migration and government policies, and urban units like neighborhoods.
  • Y: Miscellaneous Categories: contains useful information that doesn’t fit into one of the other categories, like introductory materials, data tables and graphs, book reviews, dissertations, and more.
  • Z: Other Special Topics: includes sports economics, cultural economic studies, sociology topics, and the economics of tourism.

A complete and interactive list of the Codes and all of their sub-disciplines can be found at the American Economics Association’s website

At INOMICS, we also use JEL Codes to classify our content. Why not check out the full list of Codes for something that interests you, and try searching INOMICS for related content?