Microeconomics and macroeconomics are the two big divisions of economics that are taught in college. If you’re an economics major, you’ll certainly have to take both. But if you’re just taking economics as an elective, you might be able to pick either one or the other.
Should you study Micro or Macro? Which one is more useful? Which one is more interesting?
The answer is it depends. It depends on your interests and what type of knowledge you hope to get from the class.
Microeconomics focuses on economics as it affects the individual firm or consumer. If you take a class on microeconomics, you’ll probably be looking at problems such as the purchasing preferences of an individual consumer, or the production levels of an individual firm. This can be useful if you want to understand how an individual person or company will act, due to economic principles. Remember, “micro” means small, so you’re looking at the economy from a small scale.
Macroeconomics zooms out and looks at the economy on a much bigger scale. If you take a course on macroeconomics, you’ll be looking at the economies of whole nations and what governments do to try to boost them. You’ll be looking at things like gross domestic product and the Consumer Price Index.
From the classes I’ve taken, microeconomics tends to be more intuitive and concrete, because you’re looking at everyday situations that you might face as a consumer, worker, or small business owner. You’re talking about what a consumer will do if she goes to the supermarket and the price of tomatoes has gone up, or there’s a sale on salad. It’s very much situations that everybody has been in, and this makes it accessible and (arguably) interesting to a wide array of people.
Macroeconomics tends to be more abstract, because you’re trying to decipher the workings of an entire country on a grand scale. However, macroeconomics also gets more to the bigger questions of how the different facets of the economy interact and why it all matters. And though it’s on a more abstract scale, it still affects people on a real level. The unemployment rate, for instance, falls in the domain of macroeconomics, but this is something the average worker cares very much about, because it affects people’s ability to find and keep a job.
An economics education is a useful thing to have, especially for anyone interested in business. However, microeconomics and macroeconomics have very different focuses.