As an academic discipline, Economics provides students with the tools needed to understand key social issues and participate in the formation of economic and social policy. In the UCLA Department of Economics, we identify and study such societal problems through our research, and communicate the solutions through our teaching and community outreach.

Having a diversity of perspectives both in the classroom and in the profession is very important as it helps us all look at the world in a different way, giving rise to new questions and new solutions. We recognize that women and people of color continue to be under-represented within the discipline and are committed to attracting people from every part of our society. In particular, the UCLA Department of Economics works with UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to build an equal learning, working, and living environment. We value and welcome scholars from any political affiliation and from all social identities – from race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, age, and religion – and invite everyone to engage with these important issues.

The following links discuss how our research and teaching intersect with issues of Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI):

UCLA Economics Courses

UCLA Research

EDI Resources for Students

Economics and EDI

Economics uses theory and data to study how resources are allocated and how the government can shape this allocation. In addition to traditional questions related to the role of trade, monetary policy, financial instruments, economics also investigates many of the most pressing social issues of our time. We ask questions like:

  • Why has the distribution of wealth and income grown more unequal over the last half century?
  • What are the causes of large racial and gender disparities in the labor market? Have any policies been effective in reducing racial discrimination? What additional policies might help to remedy it?
  • What is the role of taxation in increasing or reducing inequality?
  • Are current poverty alleviation policies effective?
  • How do long-term historical trends, like the great migration, affect the well-being of African Americans?
  • What are the causes and consequences of residential and educational segregation?
  • Why are unemployment rates higher among women and minorities?
  • What are the causes of homelessness and what should policy makers do in response?
  • Why is the life expectancy of minorities so much lower than that of whites?

If you wish to rigorously study these questions, through theory and data, then the economics department is the place for you. Please talk to our faculty and undergraduate advisors about which classes best fit your interests.

Adriana Lleras-Muney
Adriana Lleras-Muney
Professor of Economics

“What I love about economics is that it is a set of very general tools that allow you to think and investigate many different interesting questions. I grew up in a poor country and always wanted to understand why some countries are still poor while others have taken off. I was also greatly impacted by the limitations that I encountered as a woman and wanted to understand how economic conditions and social policies have impacted the role of women in society. I was raised in a family that suffered from many mental and physical health problems which had substantial impacts on my development as a child and on the choices I made for my career. As an economist I have been able to investigate these and many other questions, combining knowledge from history, theory, statistics, and other social sciences, and using data and rigorous statistical methods. I find it a very satisfying area to work in – economics has brought intellectual rigor to my thinking about current social and economic problems.”