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Economy or economy is the totality of all institutions and actions that serve the planned satisfaction of needs . Economic institutions include companies , private and public households , and the activities of economic activity include production , sales , exchange , consumption , circulation, distribution and recycling / disposal of goods . Such relationships exist, for example, on the global , national , urban , operational and domestic level.


The word economy is derived from Wirt in the sense of host and entertain . The foreign word economy is derived from ancient Greek. οἰκονομία , which is formed from oikos ('house', 'household') and nemein ('assign' / 'divide') and denotes the activity of the oikonomos , the household (also female). In contrast to the modern expression economy (the same applies to English economy , French économie , Ital. Economia ) the ancient word oikonomia never describes the totality of all structures and processes of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services, but only the planned economy within an institutionalized association of persons, usually the household. This corresponds to the fact that the forerunners of modern economics only go back to the 18th century. Before that, "economy" primarily referred to the agricultural economy , "economist" the farmer .


Under economies all human activities are understood to be with the most appropriate satisfaction of needs on schedule and efficiently decide on scarce resources. The need for economic activity arises from the scarcity of goods on the one hand and the infinity of human needs on the other. The fundamental object of investigation in economics is the question of what is produced how ( allocation ) and for whom ( distribution ).


Economic forms

The term “economic form” (also “wise” or “type”) describes the subsistence strategy (way of livelihood), the resulting production and the social conditions under which production takes place.

If the economy largely serves the self-sufficiency with goods, one speaks of subsistence or demand economy . Based on this elementary strategy, diverse forms of agricultural operating systems have developed, which are referred to as traditional forms of economy (examples: forms of occupation economy of the hunter-gatherer , nomadic shepherds or even field farmers ).

On the other hand, there are economic forms that are predominantly characterized by the exchange of goods . They are also called commercial economies . Their development has led to the modern, capitalist economic systems.

Economic systems

A number of economic systems exist ; market economy and central administration economy are considered to be their essential forms .

The political and legal form that defines the framework for economic activities within an economy is known as the economic order .

The following types of economic systems (in addition to which there are, however, other, less well-known systems) have an increasing government quota from top to bottom :

Economy by geography

Traditionally, a distinction is made between the (national) economy and the world economy (the entirety of international economic relations). Transnational economic areas are becoming increasingly important. One of its most important representatives is the European single market ; in addition, due to globalization, the whole world is an economic area.

The national economies differ significantly and are therefore presented in the respective articles:

More articles on the economies of individual nations can be found in the

Economic sectors

The economics divides the economy into sectors one. This is based on the three-sector hypothesis of economics.

Furthermore, the economy is divided into branches of industry (synonym: branch). These are groups of companies that manufacture similar products or provide similar services. The official statistics of the economic sectors are based on the European standard Nomenclature générale des activités économiques ( NACE for short ).

Economic policy

Economic policy is the totality of all political, especially state efforts, actions and measures, which aim to regulate, influence, shape or directly determine the course of economic events in an area or area. The science of economic policy is finance .

Economic policy is usually divided into regulatory policy , structural policy and process policy .

Business related disciplines


The economics (also economics ) deal with the scientific study of the economy. Traditionally, a distinction is made here between economics and business administration .

The economic history is a bridge discipline between economics and history. It examines the historical economic development in connection with other cultural changes.

Economics has spawned a number of economic theories. Important economic theories are (chronologically according to the period of origin):

Commercial law

The economic law is the totality of all private law, criminal law and public legal standards and measures with which the state acts on the legal relationship to economic partners to each other and in relation to the state and is the generic term for the right commercial traffic as well as the legal basis for the economic policies .

Commercial law consists of three elements: commercial constitutional law , commercial administrative law and commercial private law .

In some cases, economic criminal law, i.e. legal provisions against economic crime , is also included .

Economic sociology

The economic sociology deals with the sociological analysis of business and economics. Topics are specific aspects and sub-functions of the economic system such as B. the network formation, the dynamics of markets apart from models based on perfect markets and the consequences of limited rationality for the consumer.


See also

Portal: Economy  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of economy

Web links

 Wikinews: Economy  - In The News
Wiktionary: Economy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See Kurt Singer, Oikonomia: an inquiry into beginnings of economic thought and language, in: Kyklos 11. 1958, 29-57. Singer corrects the erroneous etymology, which goes back at least to Rousseau, according to which the word is composed of oikos ('house, household') and nomos ('law').
  2. Cf. Moses I. Finley, Die antike Wirtschaft. Munich, 3rd edition 1993, chap. 1: The people of antiquity and their economy, pp. 9–31.
  3. Walter Hirschberg (Ed.): Dictionary of Ethnology. New edition, 2nd edition, Reimer, Berlin 2005. pp. 360–361, 415.
  4. ^ Bernd Andreae: Agriculturalography. Structural zones and types of farms in world agriculture. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1977, ISBN 9783110085594 , pp. 69 ff. And 295 f .; see also Bernd Andreae: The epochal succession of agricultural forms of operation in steppes and dry savannas. (= Writings of the Society for Economic and Social Sciences des Lanbaues eV, Volume 14), Landwirtschaftsverlag, Münster-Hiltrup 1977, pp. 349–352
  5. The thick facade of civilization: Political order, social norms and violence
  6. Free market economy. In: The lexicon of the economy. Basic knowledge from A to Z. 2nd edition Bibliographisches Institut & FA Brockhaus, Mannheim 2004, Federal Center for Political Education, Bonn 2004 (license edition).
  7. ^ Uwe Andersen: Social market economy / economic policy . In: Uwe Andersen, Wichard Woyke (Ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 5th edition Leske + Budrich, Opladen 2003. Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2003 (licensed edition)
  8. ^ Ota Sik: Economic systems: comparisons - theory - criticism. Springer VS, 2013 (first published in 1987), p. 49.