New South Wales


What Is Driving Participation and Diversity Trends in Economics? A Survey of High School Students - ONLINE ONLY


From: Tuesday August 31, 2021, 12:00 pm

To: Tuesday August 31, 2021, 1:00 pm

There has been a stark decline in the size and diversity of the Year 12 Economics student population in Australia since the early 1990s. This paper asks: first, which school and individual characteristics are most strongly associated with choosing Economics? Second, what are students' perceptions of Economics? And third, what differences in perceptions of Economics exist by sex and socio-economic background?

We find high school students typically have positive perceptions of economics as a field; however, the perceptions of Economics as a subject tend to be negative. Males and students from a higher socio-economic background have more favourable perceptions of Economics than other students. Controlling for a greater perceived understanding of what Economics is about does appear to reduce some of the sex and socio-economic differences in perceptions, but a gap remains. In particular, it remains that females have less interest in Economics and a less clear idea of ‘whether they would be good at it’ or what the subsequent career opportunities may be. Furthermore, students from a lower socio-economic background are less likely to feel ‘they could do well in Economics if they put their mind to it’, and less likely to report that teachers at their school promote the study of Economics.

The results shed light on the scope for interventions to promote participation and diversity in the study of Economics.

About our Speakers

Tanya Livermore is the Manager of the RBA’s Public Education program. Over the past decade working at the Bank, Tanya has held a number of roles analysing different aspects of the Australian economy, such as inflation, wages, and business investment. Tanya holds a Masters in Economics degree from the London School of Economics and an Honours in Economics degree from the University of Wollongong.

Mike Major is a Research Economist at the RBA. He has worked at the Bank since 2015. He initially began working in the RBA’s Business Liaison Program where he met with businesses and associations to collect information on current trends in the Australian economy. Mike has also undertaken research on financial stability issues, and in particular assessing the resilience of the financial sector to macroeconomic stress events. Most recently he has worked with the Public Education team that aims to increase public understanding of economics. Mike holds a Honours in Economics degree from the University of Sydney. He is currently completing his PhD in Economics at University College London. 

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