Economics Personal Statement

Sample economics personal statement

My enthusiasm for economics arises from the appeal of the ambiguous. The subject is a science, in the way that it seeks to establish laws which can predict phenomena, but its material is the extreme unpredictability of human beings.

I have close ties with East Africa, where my family has built a school in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, and I have spent two work experience sessions, teaching maths and English, and working in an orphanage. As well as gaining a first-hand knowledge of the peculiar economic conditions in such a country, I came away with a deep sense of gratitude for my own education and sympathy for the disadvantaged Africans I worked with. Paul Collier’s book, The Bottom Billion, seems particularly relevant here, when he describes how a country which is rich in resources can often be economically backward, because the absence of the need to tax the general population can make that population less concerned about what the government is doing with its revenues. It is here that the question of management becomes important for me. I am keen to study methods of economic organisation which might transform, or at least improve, such a society. I am very much aware of the damage done by corruption and inefficiency in East Africa, and of how ignorant much western thinking is in believing that aid can solve the economic problems of the area.

It is such aspects of behavioural economics which have seized my imagination and made me want to study the subject at degree level. I am also keenly interested in the impact of new technologies. The expansion of online trade is already having devastating effects on employment. I am very curious about the next big disruptive wave! Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma interested me deeply, with its paradoxical claim that new technologies can be the cause of failure in established firms.

I have read widely on the subject and learnt much from lectures such as the TED talks given by speakers such as Matt Ridley and Dan Ariely, which have convinced me that higher money incentives are not always the direct way to improved performance in business. Tim Hardford’s Adapt was also inspiring, in his argument that the world is too now complex for us to seek ready-made solutions to problems. After the LSE debate on Hayeck vs Keynes, I left the lecture a confirmed Keynesian, unconvinced by Hayeck’s laissez-faire approach. I keep abreast of new developments by regular reading of The Economist, The Harvard Business Review and Forbes.

I have also worked as a volunteer at a local comprehensive school, tutoring pupils in maths to GCSE level. Out of curiosity I undertook a work placement at a local garage, learning about mechanics and the technicalities of repairs and servicing. I gained a good sense of achievement in the work and enjoyed the strong feeling of a team effort in the business.

At school I have a busy life. I am the elected House sports captain, responsible for organising teams and arranging fixtures, calling for good time management and “people skills”. I have played football in the 1stXI for two years, and I have a particular love of bridge, mainly for its chess-like complexity of strategy and tactics. I am on the committee of the Entrepreneurship and Stockbroking society at school, where we recently had Tony Fernandes as a speaker. I am a keen traveller, not only to East Africa but also to Canada, the USA, Brazil, Europe, Thailand and the Middle East, where I discovered that people in less developed countries are often happy with their lot and more appreciative than westerners. I am also a fully qualified scuba diver, and a D of E silver award holder.

My academic record is very good, and I believe my greatest virtue is the strength of my curiosity. I am always open to new views of things and new solutions, and I love debating and serious philosophical discussion. My enthusiasm for my subject is unquestioned and I hope you will consider my application.

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