Arijit is a researcher and an economics PhD candidate at the RWI- Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen, Germany.
Why did you choose to study economics?
I started out in high school wanting to study chemistry in college but then realized that I liked history and geography and maths and computer science too. Economics became the obvious choice given how comprehensive its focus is and how universally applicable its tools are. Additionally, getting a degree in economics is not a bad bet given that it is a credential that is sought by all sorts of employers- consulting, pharma, and tech companies, central banks, regular banks, etc. In short, it is not super difficult to make a decent living with a degree in economics.
How would you describe economics?
It's always difficult to come up with a good definition but I guess one way to describe economics would be to say that it is the study of arriving at a best choice in the presence of tricky trade-offs. Another definition would be that economics is the systematic study of causes and consequences. I am clearly biased on this one, but I truly do believe that if there is perhaps just one skill that economists today are usually better at than others, it would be correctly measuring cause and effect relationships.
If you had a time machine and could meet your 16-year-old self, what advice would you give them?
I will paraphrase Conan O' Brien's words here- not all your wishes will be granted and not all your dreams/plans will play out exactly the way you have envisioned.
What is your favourite part of economics?
The people in economics and the diversity of perspective in economic research- while some are researching the varied impacts of monetary policy, others are studying the impact of climate change risks and how best to mitigate them; while some are tracking how cultural norms are passed on along generations, others are designing institutions which can help reduce lying activity by firms and governments. I have always had amazing role models. Also, most economics students are quite funny- which is nice.
Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance?
Reading more history and learning how to play a musical instrument, just any instrument. And I run quite a fair bit now, but it would have been great if I had started on it much earlier.