Why Study Economics? Interview: Layth Sabbagh

A few weeks ago I interviewed sophomore and economics major, Layth Sabbagh and got his take on economics. He discussed many aspects of economics that he liked and thought were interesting. We also talked about what pushed him to pursue a degree in economics and how he intends to use this knowledge in the future.

Layth grew up in Dubai and lived in Syria for a few years, where much of his family is from. When I asked him about why chose economics, he said that he “likes the social sciences” and that economics “feels less intrusive” than other social sciences such as “sociology or anthropology.” Layth sees economics as a field of study which leaves out many emotional aspects of society that are difficult to understand such as racism, stereotypes, and even politics. In a way, this part of economics is very refreshing for Layth as he can put aside some of society’s irrational anger and hate and just get down to the graphs.

But when Layth begins to look at the graphs he sees something a little different in those lines than somebody from, say, California. Layth lived in Dubai for abut 14 years of his life and didn’t now much about economics before coming to UPS. I asked him whether he had taken an entry level economics course in secondary school and he said, “no… I knew about Karl Marx and I knew that I liked Marx and… Lenin as economists.”

Layth is an international student so he brings a very different perspective to the classroom and the subjects that are taught. When I asked him about this, he said that “there is something distinctive about the US.” He discussed how in the United States there is a mentality that markets can work properly without much intervention and capitalism is the mechanism that we constantly look to. He agreed that “markets need to run efficiently, but people also need to live.” To him other ideologies such as socialism weren’t really given enough thought or credit.

Another answer to the question of “why study economics?,” was Layth felt that he could use his economic knowledge to help his family’s country. He talked about how after Syria overcomes this devastating civil war, the country would need support moving into the future. There could be many different reasons to study economics in college and, for Layth it is a way to improve the future.

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