What Is Economic Analysis?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Economic analysis is the process of examining statistics and market indicators to determine possible plans for the allocation of resources. Analysis can be geared toward developing a specific economic plan or policy, or may be used to thoroughly understand the current status of an economy. In order to perform a basic economic analysis, it is important to understand the relationship between resources and needs, the recent history of the economy in question, and goals or forecasts for the near future.

Economic analysis involves looking at statistics and market data.
Economic analysis involves looking at statistics and market data.

The first step of an economic analysis often involves data gathering on resources. These resources may include intangible concepts, such as labor and time, as well as tangible items such as money or goods. Understanding how best to allocate scarce resources is often the primary function of economic analysis, since efficient allocation can lead to a stable or growing economy and a balance between resources and needs. Data needed for resource analysis might include population information, gross production statistics, and details about labor and wage laws that can influence the maximum cost and amount of labor.

An economic analysis can determine whether subsidizing more farming might reduce the risk of upcoming food shortages.
An economic analysis can determine whether subsidizing more farming might reduce the risk of upcoming food shortages.

Understanding the recent history of an industry, region, or national economy can greatly impact the results of economic analysis. A country in the midst of a war will generally have very different economic factors at work than a country just emerging from a recession. The recent history of the subject may affect the allocation of resources, prices, production maximums, and nearly every other factor that plays a role of importance in analysis. In addition to examining past economic events that may be influencing a study, it is also important to examine local, national, and global events that can also change the interpretation of data.

Economic analysis can sometimes be performed simply to explain the current state of a specific economy, but it may also be done as part of an attempt to set and meet future economic goals. If, for instance, a government foresees an upcoming food scarcity, it may want to begin subsidizing farming to help reduce the economic risk of a shortage. By performing economic analysis, it may be able to determine how to create subsidies and assistance programs that best suit the situation without straining financial resources.

The business of economic analysis is enormous, both in the private and public sector. A small business or large corporation might request an analysis to determine expansion or reduction needs, plan for new product lines, or examine the cost versus benefits of entering a new global market. In the public sector, governments often have entire bureaus devoted to thorough economic analysis, measuring everything from the production of grain to the ripple effect caused by another nation's economic woes.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


Doing detailed economic analysis requires education in the field of economics and statistics. Although we are not all economists, I do recommend people who want to work in business administration or similar field to at least take a few courses or workshops on economic analysis. This is a highly required skill and qualification these days. Employers require and are impressed by applicants who do financial analysis. I've personally lost quite a few jobs because I lacked this skill.


@serenesurface-- There are different types of economic analyses that can be used. You could do a simple cost analysis and calculate the costs and expenses of a decision or project. You can compare this cost with the benefits (i.e. profits) of the project and decide if it's financially feasible or worth the effort.

There are also more complex analyses like cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses. But these take longer to calculate and it's not always necessary. If you have several different options and need to figure out the best option, then cost-benefit analysis will give you the most thorough explanation for that.


What if I want to know which economic decision is going to be cheapest or most efficient for a project? Or how can I know if the benefits of a project will outweigh the costs?

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