A question people have asked me many times is why I went from Computer Science to Economics (although I'll note here that I actually did finish the CS degree instead of just transferring). It's a valid question, and I figure I'll answer it here.
Update: For those of you who are double-majoring in Computer Science and Economics, stay with it! If you go into an economics-oriented field, your computer skills will set you far apart from the hordes of computer-illiterate economics majors that graduate each year.
For those of you only studying economics, the best piece of advice for you is this: learn to use computers. And go beyond Excel, learn something sophisticated like SQL or R which are much more powerful.
And now, back to the article:
Here are my reasons:
1) While I like programming and working with computers, I found that working with them 40+ hours per week drained my enthusiasm for playing around in the off-hours. I would get home from work and not want to go anywhere near code. It was depressing. Now, even after doing stats and math all day long, I have no problem writing code at night when I'm done studying. So therefore I have decided that I would like to keep coding as a hobby, and do something else to earn a living.
2) More of the people I care about are interested in Economics, so they actually want to hear what I have to say about it (which isn't all that much right now, strangely enough). Some of my friends do care about computer stuff, in fact some of them even read this blog (hey guys! *waves*) but the vast majority of my friends and family don't really care too much about programming, computer science, Linux, etc. It's not that it isn't relevant to them, most of them find computers useful in some form or another, but when you compare questions like "why did I get a virus?" to questions like "why did I get laid off?" or "why did my investment portfolio bomb?" there is a much higher level of interest in the latter two. It's also a question of respect, I suspect that economists get a slightly higher level of respect than do programmers (although these days maybe not!).
3) I feel I can make a bigger contribution to the economic world than the computer world. It seems to me like a lot of the people doing things at the top in economics are just wanking around with math and saying that it reflects reality. I think it would be interesting to see what happens when you throw in more computer simulations using AI, or start wondering what happens when you mix computational complexity with game theory. For example, existence/uniqueness of equilibria matter and all, but the ability for a decision-maker/market to find said equilibria in a timely manner matters too.
4) The computer industry is governed more by economics than computer science (technology/computer science does play a fair-sized part mind you, just the part played by economics seems to be bigger). Why is Microsoft so big? Why is Java so popular? The answers to these questions are answered by economics as much as by technology.
Second Update (2015-06-18): It's been 6 years since I wrote this article, and probably 5 or so since that last update. That's enough time for some adventure and experience, which I'll share it here. I did a Master's in Economics, and worked in a number of different jobs: algorithmic trading, a successful Internet marketing startup, my own video game startup (briefly), and I'm now working at YouTube in San Francisco. This adventure is not over - I'm not even 30 years old. I know that in a few years if I decide to leave the Bay Area, I can go pretty much anywhere and not have to worry too much about finding work. There are very few disciplines that can boast this, but computer science is one of them. So here are some reasons why I am back in the tech world:
1) The jobs pay better. A good economist knows that utility increases with income, and therefore the rational choice between the two is to go into technology.
2) The jobs are more diverse. With economics you pretty much have two choices: a large financial institution, or a government. Unless you've built up some other skills elsewhere (business savvy, tech skills, social skills, entrepreneurship) then you've got limited options. With tech, you can do anything, anywhere. Software touches nearly every industry on the planet from farming to physics, and they are all looking for people who know how to make the computer do what they want.
3) It's easy to go from tech to economics; the reverse is not true. It wasn't very hard for me to get accepted to my Master's program in economics simply because I have an engineering background. Since graduate economics is all math and computers anyway, you're actually better off than the people who did their undergraduate degree in econ.
So while I found economics interesting, the only reason I would recommend that someone take economics over computer science is if they really liked economics and really didn't like computer science. Otherwise I'd suggest a major in computer science with either a minor or a double-major in economics.