This is one question that many students aspiring to study economics have. This was the question that even I asked many while studying. Not all of us are math wizards, and more than often are too scared to even opt for such a subject.
Mathematics is the foundation to all the practical exercises that happen in economics – all those statistical tests and those estimations of assets worth. But it not the beginning and end of it. The beauty of economics is that you can choose the topic of your interest – which may or may not use maths extensively – and go ahead with that. I was always more inclined towards subjects such development economics and international economics which are mainly theoretical but are very importance in today’s world.
This does not mean one always ignore maths. To test the practical application of any theory you do need at least that much of maths to understand what the numbers would mean – the analysis. So, even as great economists such as Mankiw have suggested, always go for as many mathematical subjects as you can. You don’t have to be the topper or even in that bracket. You have study math to break out of your own fears. You don’t have to be an expert in it but learn enough to be able to analyze the graphs and equations when you see them. You would be aware of that field, and would have ability to judge where it can be applied. I was never as good as many of my friends, but I still learned where econometric/statistics/mathematics is used, how can it be used, what are the tools and how complex can it get.
You do not have to worry about how would you ever do a post-grad or a PhD without a good maths background, because as I already said – you opt the subjects you love, and take the maths subjects to at least keep your fears away. It may not sound easy, but even 30% understanding of those mathematical subjects is better than no understanding !
I would be glad to hear other opinions against this or for this.