What is the Difference Between Micro & Macro Economics?

by Shane Hall - Updated September 26, 2017
The national debt, one of the key measures in macroeconomics.

Microeconomics and macroeconomics--micro and macro, as many economists call them--are the two major subdivisions in the field of economics. Micro examines the economy in miniature, while macro concerns itself with economic aggregates, such as gross domestic product or national unemployment rates.

Microeconomics

Microeconomics studies the economy in miniature, considering specific sectors or industries, and the interactions of households and firms within these markets.

Features of Micro

The major areas of study in microeconomics include firms' optimal production, the impact of public policy on particular markets, and issues related to prices.

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Significance

Because so much of microeconomics examines issues related to prices of goods and services, micro is sometimes referred to as price theory.

Macroeconomics

Macroeconomics takes a "big picture" approach to the economy, studying economywide phenomena and issues affecting the economy as a whole.

Features of Macro

Major concepts in macroeconomics include unemployment, inflation, productivity, government budget deficits (or surpluses) and gross domestic product (GDP).

Business Cycles

Business cycles, a term for fluctuating periods of economic strength and weakness, are a major topic of study in macroeconomics.

References

  • "Principles of Economics" N. Gregory Mankiw, 2003; Third Edition

About the Author

Shane Hall is a writer and research analyst with more than 20 years of experience. His work has appeared in "Brookings Papers on Education Policy," "Population and Development" and various Texas newspapers. Hall has a Doctor of Philosophy in political economy and is a former college instructor of economics and political science.

Photo Credits

  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Kevin Krejci
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