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The economics , also economics and sporadically Economics is the science of the economy . Economics examines the rational handling of scarce, i.e. limited, goods.


A first systematic economic theory stems from Aristotle , for whom purposeful action in the economy ( ancient Greek οἶκος oikos , German 'house, property' ; ancient Greek νόμος nomos , German 'law' ; "business according to laws") is legitimate. He made a distinction between the natural acquisition and use of material means for the good life ( ancient Greek οἰκονομικέ oikonomiké ) and the (unrealistic) acquisition of these means ( ancient Greek χρεματιστικέ chrematistik é ). The main contours of his economic theory can be found in his works Politics and Nicomachean Ethics .

Historical development

National economy

The great thinkers of antiquity and the Middle Ages are considered the ancestors of economics. The Middle Ages also knew some economic representations. In his main work Summa theologica , written between 1265 and 1273, Thomas Aquinas also dealt with economic issues. He rated agriculture and handicrafts higher than trade . The pursuit of profit must not harm the weaker party or the general public. The core of this was his doctrine of the fair price . In his History of Economic Analysis (1954), Joseph Schumpeter attributed the development of the scientific investigation of economic relationships to the late scholastics (in the 14th and 15th centuries). However, the basic concept of old European economics differed greatly from today's perspective. Nicolaus Copernicus dealt with monetary theory in the wake of the inflation of the Peasants' War . In John Buridan (1300-1385), there are the first signs of descriptive economy by the he metalism the monetary value of its metal value looks determined. Nicolaus Oresmius (1325-1385 ) was the first purely economic work with the treatise on monetary devaluations (1373).

The mercantilists and the physiocrats are classified as “early modern” (also “pre-classical”) economists . Mercantilism began around 1450 , during which the economist James Denham-Steuart, with his mercantilistic Summa (1767), presented the first overall presentation of economics, thus establishing economics as an independent science . The "natural order" ( French ordre naturel ) of the physiocracy was characterized by freedom , competition and private property , which is best described in its slogan "let go and let happen" ( French laissez-faire , laissez-passer ), coined by Vincent de Gournay in 1751. is expressed. The year 1758, in which the French doctor Francois Quesnay published his main work Tableau économique , is often cited as the hour of birth of economics in the form understood today as a research discipline with independent theoretical structures . At the time of publication, the 64-year-old scholar understood the dependencies of the flow of money and goods as a cycle.

The Scot Adam Smith is also regarded as the founder of modern economics. He published in 1776 his book The Wealth of Nations ( An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations ) and criticized there until then mostly the prevailing mercantilism. His widespread work was widely recognized in Great Britain and the United States and for the first time conveyed the idea of ​​a new direction in science to study economic activity.

Since David Ricardo's work Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1821), the “ deductive method” with quantitative considerations prevailed. With the spread of this method, the social framework conditions were increasingly eliminated from the study of political economy; At first a purely logical-mathematical understanding of market conditions prevailed (economics as a natural science).

Under the influence of industrialization in the 19th century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels developed the Marxist economic theory . The classical economics was, beginning in the late 19th century, replaced by the Neoclassical theory that characterizes the modern economics today. For several decades - until the 1960s / 70s - the publications of John Maynard Keynes dominated the discussion.

Since the second half of the twentieth century, Smith-based ideas of economic liberalism have spread. Milton Friedman is considered one of the most important economists in this direction . In addition, there are critical positions on the mainstream with the collective term heterodox economy or plural economics .

Business administration

Business administration as a pure description of activities and their purposes in individual companies began in Italy as early as the 15th century. There was in 1494 for the accounting of business studies the technique of double-entry bookkeeping by Luca Pacioli developed and published.

The French Jacques Savary , who in 1675 published the first systematically structured textbook on business administration: Le parfait Négociant, is considered to be the founder of action science . In it he summarized the entire commercial knowledge of his time, described the trading business and the associated risks and proposed, among other things, to apply the lower of cost or market principle to the accounting valuation of company assets and to provide transitory items for the accrual accounting. Savary had a great influence on Paul Jacob Marperger from Nuremberg, who in his main work, published in 1714, Necessary and useful questions about the merchant's business, also described the trading business and justified the trading margin. He was the first to establish the subject's scientific claim by calling for public professors mercaturae to be prescribed at universities .

However, Carl Günther Ludovici is considered to be Savary's actual successor in the German-speaking world , who “focused his attention solely on the compilation and systematic construction of the material” and with his work “ Opened Academy of Merchants or Complete Merchants Lexicon created the best collection of his time” (Eduard Weber), in the appendix of which there is a systematic presentation of action science with the outline of a complete merchant system , which divides the material into the types of commercial and auxiliary trade, the productive factors (goods, people, material resources) and the commercial activity as one - and sales.

After a period of decline in business administration and its suppression by economics, its importance increased considerably from the beginning of the 20th century.


In the German-speaking area, economics is usually divided into the areas of business administration (BWL) and economics (VWL, national economy ). The associated job titles are economist , economist and business economist (or economist).

Economics examines fundamental economic relationships and laws in a society , both in relation to individual economic units ( microeconomics ) and macroeconomic ( macroeconomics ). Objects of knowledge are economic management , i.e. the planned and efficient handling of scarce resources for the best possible satisfaction of needs in the environment of the economy . Business administration deals with the economic interrelationships and laws of individual companies and provides insights into operational structures and processes.

In order to check economic models empirically and to analyze economic phenomena quantitatively, econometric methods are used, which are ultimately based on mathematical models. These models are also used to create forecasts for economic developments.

Economics in the broader sense also includes interdisciplinary areas such as

Economics is one of the social sciences . Economic aspects are also examined in other social science areas.

See also

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


  • Alfred Bürgin : On the sociogenesis of political economy. Economic and dogma-historical considerations, 2nd edition, Marburg 1996
  • Karl Eman Pribram : History of Economic Thought . Translation of the original edition, A History of Economic Reasoning . First and second volume. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 1998, ISBN 3-518-28956-X
  • Adam Smith , 1776: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
  • Joachim Starbatty (Ed.): Classics of Economic Thought: From Plato to John Maynard Keynes . Part 1 and 2 in a complete edition. Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-937872-92-6

Web links

Commons : Economy  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Economics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikibooks: Regal: Economics  - Learning and teaching materials

Individual evidence

  1. Economics in the Duden: from Latin oeconomia 'proper division' , this from ancient Greek οἰκονομία oikonomía , German 'housekeeping, administration' from οἶκος oíkos , German 'house' and νόμος nómos , German 'law, custom, custom' and the suffix -ική -ikḗ .
  2. Economics in Duden: from Latin oeconomicus , economic ' .
  3. Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon : Definition of Economics , accessed: September 30, 2019
  4. Fritz Söllner: The history of economic thinking. 2001, p. 11.
  5. ^ David Ricardo: Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. 1821 ( [accessed September 25, 2019]).
  6. ^ Edmund Sundhoff : Three hundred years of commercial science . 1979, p. 37.
  7. ^ Paul Jacob Marperger: Necessary and useful questions about the Kauffmannschektiven. 1714, pp. 138-141.
  8. What is economics about? ( Memento from February 22, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) University of Marburg.