Economic science makes a distinction between normative and positive economics. Positive economics is the branch of economics that focuses in the description and explanation of economic phenomena, while normative is concerned with the application of positive economics with the purpose of giving advice on practical problems including those regarding public policy.
We can easily make the distinction between positive and normative economics by asking two very different questions: “What is?” and “What ought to be?”. As stated before, positive economics focuses on analysing economic phenomena, on answering the question “What is?”. Normative economics wants to answer the question “What ought to be?”. In other words, how can I apply something I found out (positive economics) to the real world (normative economics)? Thus, we can think of positive economics as being the purely scientific part of the economic discipline being objective and fact-based, while normative economics is more subjective to values and hence considered non-scientific.
Normative economics analyses can be found both at a microeconomic and macroeconomic level. For instance, welfare economics has a purely normative branch, which aims at finding better ways of arriving to optimum conditions and equilibriums to benefit a greater amount of people. Also, at the macro level, all related to policymaking is considered to be part of the normative economics branch.