Economics (and Management) Personal Statement
Submitted by Chris
Discussing the housing crisis with my grandmother was a pivotal moment in my study of economics. Learning that to purchase her first house would require an income today of £200k provided the first opportunity for me to apply my understanding of supply and demand, and in turn consider how government policy can be adapted to better allocate scarce resources. This is what draws me to the subject — the beneficial real life applications of highly developed theory which can be applied to improve economic welfare.
My interest in the distribution of wealth was first introduced whilst studying the objectives of government policy in macroeconomics. To pursue this, I completed an Open University MOOC entitled ‘Challenging Income and Wealth Inequalities in the UK’. The course investigated the main causes of inequality in the economy, such as inequality of opportunity, and continued to explore potential government interventions to improve the situation. My interest was peaked during the general election earlier this year when Labour proposed a maximum wage. As a result, I entered the RES Young Economist of the Year essay competition, where I evaluated the feasibility of such a policy being implemented to reduce inequality. Ultimately I concluded that, whilst a maximum wage is likely to somewhat reduce inequalities, there are more effective ways to do this such as equalising opportunity and progressive tax systems, and the negative consequences on the rest of the economy make the policy unfeasible to impose.
For the last year, I have worked as a Customer Assistant at M&S. The role has exposed me to microeconomic concepts in action, including aspects of behavioural economics. It has been fascinating to witness the store manager’s choice architecture in action, and the ‘nudges’ (such as placing healthier products at eye level) which exist to help our customers make smarter choices. At a theoretical level, I pursued my interest in this area of economics by reading ‘Nudge’ by Thaler and Sunstein. Initially, I was rather critical of many of the ideas discussed as I did not think they would hold in real life. However, after successfully testing the theory of anchoring with my classmates and attending a talk by a behavioural economist studying the decision-making process of the consumer, my scepticism turned into fascination at how easily we as ‘rational’ human beings can indeed be influenced. I now understand the scope for nudges to be used to maximise profits in a commercial environment.
The management element of Business Studies was part of my inspiration to jointly set up a small business, reselling clothes. I developed digital marketing initiatives and used my knowledge of the functions of price to create a pricing strategy which maximised sales revenue. The business has provided both managerial experience and an insight into how the technology is digitising the economy. To pursue this interest, I read ‘The E Myth Revisited’ by Gerber, who explains that the main reason why 80% of small businesses fail is due to managers working in their business, as opposed to on them. On the whole, I agreed with his ideas, but failed to see how his three system approach could be implemented in all businesses, especially in cases where each employee has a specific skillset and their knowledge can’t simply be substituted.
Completing an Extended Project examining the legality of euthanasia cultivated my expertise in both research and organisation — key skills required at university. Volunteering at Barnardo’s and a local junior school improved my interpersonal skills through interacting with children, staff and customers alike. As an elected prefect I have honed my leadership skills and my resilience has further been improved through the completion of Bronze DofE.
Having only just begun my study of economics, I am very much now looking forward to establishing a much deeper and broader knowledge of the subject at degree level.