A large deficit in the US trade balance caused the dollar to plunge... The unemployment rate in Switzerland remains one of the lowest in the world... The price hike for oil may trigger inflation... The introduction of CO2 emission certificates will help to fight global warming... Risk-taking by investment banks endangers world economic growth... An aging population threatens social security funding... If such phenomena raise your interest, if you would like to better understand their causes and consequences in order to help make informed decisions, then economics is here for you.
For decades economic research has developed a methodology that improves our understanding of economic phenomena and helps us cope with the many challenges of our global economy. Economics is a vast subject since allmost all problems and challenges facing our society have, more or less, an economic dimension. Broadly speaking, economics can be split into two main branches of study. The first one is microeconomics which is concerned with the behaviour of individual decision-making units, such as a consumer, a firm, a worker or a financial institution. This branch aims to study how the different markets – for goods and services, labour, financial assets and insurance contracts – operate. The second one is macroeconomics which addresses global economic phenomena. It strives to explain the evolution and the interdependence of economic aggregates such as the national product, consumption, employment, the general price level, interest rates, the balance of payments, wages and profits.
The two micro and macro approaches are applied to different domains in economics such as international economics, labour economics, public economics, monetary and financial economics, or health economics. They are complemented by econometrics, which introduces the quantitative, statistical dimension in the study of economic phenomena, and by economic history, which introduces the time dimension in the long run analysis of economic change.
Economics in Geneva was represented for a long time by a chair in political economy and, starting in 1970, by a Department of political economy. Faculty members in this department contributed to the international reputation of Geneva University by their teaching, research and publications in some key domains of economic science : international economics, monetary and financial economics, public finance, labour economics, economic growth and environmental economics.
Econometrics in Geneva
Econometrics was born out of the need to test economic theories using scientific and quantitative methods like those used in natural sciences. To this end econometrics uses quantitative models requiring both an in-depth knowledge of economics and proficiency in mathematics, statistics and computer science. Econometrics helps to get a better understanding of economic and social life. Econometric tools and models are used for forecasting and achieving informed policy decisions.
The first econometrics chair in Switzerland was created at the University of Geneva and attributed to Luigi Solari, who founded in 1966 the Centre of Econometrics, a structure devoted to econometric research. A Department of econometrics, grouping under one single structure the chairs in econometrics and in statistics, followed in 1970. Soon, the Department was called upon to offer courses in quantitative methods to all study programs in the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, thus going beyond its initial focus on economics. Until its merger with two other departments (economics, and economic history) in 2011, it has been known as a world-renowned unit for teaching and research in econometrics, based on a strong background in mathematics, probability, statistics and numerical methods. This dedication to quantitative research and teaching was pursued in a broader Department of economics, where econometrics, statistics and other quantitative methods take a large share and contribute to the international reputation of the University of Geneva.
Institute of Economics and Econometrics
Since January 1st, 2014, the Department of Economics becomes the Institute of Economics and Econometrics. It maintains tight links with several research centres in the University of Geneva : Laboratory of Applied Economics , Paul Bairoch Institute of Economic History , Research Center for Statistics , Geneva Finance Research Institute , Institute of Environment , and Institute of Demography .