7 Key Qualities That Define a Good Economist

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jun 24, 2019

Jun 24, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

By 2026, the employment rate of economists is projected to grow 6% more competitive.

This profession involves the collection and analysis of data to study the production and distribution of goods and services. Economists also research trends and evaluate economic issues.

With economists earning an average of over $100,000 annually, this can be a promising career path to follow.

In this article, we will look at some of the qualities that make a good economist to see if you're the right fit.

1. A Love for Numbers

This profession involves a lot of data analysis. Though some of the data interpreted will be graphs and charts, everything must be backed by calculations that are based on sound mathematical principles.

To succeed, one must not just be able to tackle large calculations, but also enjoy them. In fact, a mathematical foundation is crucial in economics.

This is why most people take preparatory classes in mathematics before studying economics.

2. Ability to Grasp Complex Systems

To make businesses more productive at lower costs, economists must gather, study, and interpret data from multiple fields.

For them to draw any useful information from that data, they must be able to make connections from unrelated data.

Becoming successful at interpreting these complex systems takes a lot of time. Therefore, patience is also a necessary quality in this field.

In addition, keeping up with trends and developments in the industry with lots of reading is important.

There are many magazines and websites specifically for economists where they can learn more about securities, opportunities, and data that will help them make better decisions.

3. Knowledge of Other Social Sciences

Economics is one of the branches of social science. Along with a firm grasp of mathematics, an economist must also be well-versed with subjects such as history, psychology, and sociology.

History is important as one must be able to understand how things have been, and how they have influenced the present, to accurately predict what is to come.

Sociology and psychology involve understanding the collective and individual behaviors of people. To economists, these are important in understanding trends and responding to the market.

Previously, it was only a bonus for economists to be knowledgeable in other branches of social science. However, these days, it has become a necessity in this field.

4. An Economist Should Be a Free-Thinker

In the field of economics, one must learn and draw insight constantly from other peoples' works, both past and present.

This will give you a better perspective of the field as a whole. To succeed, you must not only use other peoples' theories and principles, but also be able to develop your own.

To do this, you must develop the skill of free-thought. You should learn to question everything and develop your own research that leads you to new paths.

By thinking for yourself, you will be able to find limitations in other theories and improve them, as well as blazing a trail for others.

This ability is what sets apart the good economists from the great ones.

5. Communication Skills

The primary role of economists is to analyze data and complex systems to make observations that are otherwise invisible. Much of these observations are not easy to understand for the lay person.

Therefore, for economists to truly be able to deliver, they must be able to translate complex data into simple concepts that others can understand.

This means that great communication skills, both oral and written, are very important in economics.

In addition, they must also be a good and commanding speaker. Even if someone develops a revolutionary theory in economics, it will be of no use if they cannot articulate it.

6. Ability to Handle Pressure

The complexity of the data economists should analyze, as well as the numerous calculations needed to be done to back up assertions, can be cumbersome.

On top of that, the need to develop actionable data within a given timeline can be quite stressful.

You must be able to hold your nerve under such circumstances for you to deliver. Also, the field of economics, as with other social sciences, does not generally deal with challenges with definitive answers.

It requires you to plow through data looking for a pattern that may or may not be there to develop a solution that doesn't yet exist.

This is not easy for people who easily succumb to pressure.

The challenge does not end after identifying a possible solution, but after convincing the key decision makers.

This is not easy, because most of the time, you will have to pitch something that’s out of the norm, based on connections they may not be able to see.

These are also highly intelligent people that are equally opinionated. To convince them, you must be able to withstand the pressure of their questioning or skepticism.

7. Open-Mindedness

Economics is a field that is in constant evolution. As much as one has to be an independent thinker, it is equally essential to be open-minded to succeed.

Of course, it is important to develop your own perspective, but you must be tolerant of other people’s opinions.

Network and interact with fellow economists. Get to hear their take on matters even if you do not agree with them.

Such discussions may not necessarily change your opinion, but they may shape your theories. Their logic may be flawed, but there may be bits that will actually help you to build on your ideas.

Also, there may be a chance your theories are wrong. This way, you will learn and make adjustments before it is too late.

This Is Why Economists Should Be Self-Driven

As an economist, you will be required to make sense of data that may not be directly related to each other. This may sometimes force you to work long hours.

Without any clear way of determining progress, it is important that you are able to push yourself to complete tasks without supervision.

To ensure that your drive does not wane with time, find ways to motivate yourself as you work on projects.

Good luck on your career path!