Economics is this year's most popular concentration choice among freshmen, following a ten-year upward trend in enrollment in that field, according to statistics released last week by the Office of the Registrar.
Economics is followed closely by History, Biology and Government as the most popular fields of concentration.
Otto Eckstein, professor of Economics, said yesterday that "usually when the economy is in trouble and people's own economic future is threatened, we get a lot more concentrators in Economics."
Eckstein added that in 1973, when a recession was feared, the number of freshmen who chose Economics increased. Only 6.6 per cent of freshmen chose Economics in 1972 compared with 10.1 per cent in 1973.
The trend reflects a national tendency and is not peculiar to Harvard, Elizabeth K. Allison, associate professor of Economics, said yesterday.
Another reason for the popularity of Economics is that it provides practical preparation for a variety of careers, David A. Hartman, head tutor in Economics, said yesterday.
Eckstein said that "Economics is the most analytical of the social sciences and the student body is getting more analytical. Student aren't afraid of graphs or a little algebra."
Both Eckstein and Allison said a good introductory course, in this case Economics 10, "Principles of Economics," lures many students who might have passed up Economics.
Lots to Do
Some students say concentrating in Economics leaves them more than one option after graduation.
"I chose Economics because with Ec you can go into law or business or economics, which is a lot more than you can do with other concentrations," Jane Weaver '81 said yesterday.
History placed second among concentration choices with 9.5 per cent of the freshman class selecting it.
"It's an inherently interesting field with a good deal of variety in it. One can study political history, cultural history, economic history or intellectual history," Ernest R. May, chairman of the History Department, said yesterday.
Biology ranked a close third, attracting 9.4 per cent of the freshman class.
Rod Riedel, head sectionman for Bio 7a, "Introductory Biology," said yesterday Biology is attractive to freshmen because the requirements "include med school requirements giving students who plan to go to med school more time to explore other areas."