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An economic theory derive laws or generalizations through two types of methods or techniques, used for economic analysis:

Types of Economic Analysis:

Following types (methods or techniques) used for economic analysis:

(1) Deductive Method and (2) Inductive Method.

These two types (methods or techniques) of deriving economic generalizations are now explained in brief:

(1) Deductive (Analytical, Abstract or Prior) Method:

The deductive method is also named as analytical, abstract or prior method.

Definition, Meaning and Concept:

The deductive method or technique consists in deriving conclusions from general truths, takes few general principles and applies them to draw conclusions.

For example, if we accept the general proposition that man is entirely motivated by self-interest. In applying the deductive method of economic analysis, we proceed from general to particular.

The classical and neo-classical school of economists notably, Ricardo, Senior, Cairnes, J.S. Mill, Malthus, Marshall, Pigou, applied the deductive method in their economic investigations.

Steps or procedure of Deductive Method:

The main steps or procedure involved in deductive logic are as under:

(i) Perception of the problem to be inquired into: In the process of deriving economic generalizations, the analyst must have a clear and precise idea of the problem to be inquired into.

(ii) Defining of terms: The next step in this direction is to define clearly the technical terms used in analysis. Further, assumptions made for a theory should also be precise.

(iii) Deducing hypothesis from the assumptions: The third step in deriving generalizations is deducing hypothesis from the assumptions taken.

(iv) Testing of hypothesis: Before establishing laws or generalizations, hypothesis should be verified through direct observations of events in the rear world and through statistical methods. (Their inverse relationship between price and quantity demanded of a good is a well established generalization).

Merits or Advantages of Deductive Method:

The main merits or advantages of deductive method are as under:

(i) This method is near to reality. It is less time consuming and less expensive.

(ii) The use of mathematical techniques in deducing theories of economics brings exactness and clarity in economic analysis.

(iii) There being limited scope of experimentation, the method helps in deriving economic theories.

(iv) The method is simple because it is analytical.

Demerits or Disadvantages of Deductive Method:

Following are demerits or disadvantages of deductive method:

(i) The deductive method is simple and precise only if the underlying assumptions are valid. More often the assumptions turn out to be based on half truths or have no relation to reality. The conclusions drawn from such assumptions will, therefore, be misleading.

(ii) Professor Learner describes the deductive method as ‘armchair’ analysis. According to him, the premises from which inferences are drawn may not hold good at all times, and places. As such deductive reasoning is not applicable universally.

(iii) The deductive method is highly abstract. It require; a great deal of care to avoid bad logic or faulty economic reasoning.

As the deductive method employed by the classical and neo-classical economists led to many facile conclusions due to reliance on imperfect and incorrect assumptions, therefore, under the German Historical School of economists, a sharp reaction began against this method. They advocated a more realistic method for economic analysis known as inductive method.

(2) Inductive (Empirical) Method:

Inductive method which also called empirical method was adopted by the “Historical School of Economists”. It involves the process of reasoning from particular facts to general principle.

Definition, Meaning and Concept:

Inductive or empirical method derives economic generalizations on the basis of (i) Experimentation (ii) Observations and (iii) Statistical methods.

In this method, data is collected about a certain economic phenomenon. These are systematically arranged and the general conclusions are drawn from them.

For example, we observe 200 persons in the market. We find that nearly 195 persons buy from the cheapest shops, Out of the 5 which remains, 4 persons buy local products even at higher rate just to patronize their own products, while the fifth is a fool. From this observation, we can easily draw conclusions that people like to buy from a cheaper shop unless they are guided by patriotism or they are devoid of commonsense.

Steps or Procedure of Inductive Method:

The main steps or procedure involved in the application of inductive method are:

(i) Observation.

(ii) Formation of hypothesis.

(iii) Generalization.

(iv) Verification.

Merits or Advantages of Inductive Method:

(i) It is based on facts as such the method is realistic.

(ii) In order to test the economic principles, method makes statistical techniques. The inductive method is, therefore, more reliable.

(iii) Inductive method is dynamic. The changing economic phenomenon are analyzed and on the basis of collected data, conclusions and solutions are drawn from them.

(iv) Induction method also helps in future investigations.

Demerits or Disadvantages of Inductive Method:

The main demerits or disadvantages of inductive method are as under:

(i) If conclusions drawn from insufficient data, the generalizations obtained may be faulty.

(ii) The collection of data itself is not an easy task. The sources and methods employed in the collection of data differ from investigator to investigator. The results, therefore, may differ even with the same problem.

(iii) The inductive method is time-consuming and expensive.


The above analysis reveals that both the methods have weaknesses. We cannot rely exclusively on any one of them. Modern economists are of the view that both these methods are complimentary. They partners and not rivals. Alfred Marshall has rightly remarked:

Inductive and Deductive methods of economic analysis are both needed for scientific thought, as the right and left foot are both needed for walking”.

We can apply any of them or both as the situation demands.