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How do voters form positive economic beliefs? Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy

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  • Bryan Caplan

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Abstract

Beliefs about normative economics appear to be primarily determined by sociotropic rather than egocentric variables. (Sears & Funk, 1990; Citrin & Green, 1990) Using the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy, the current paper finds that the same holds for positiveeconomic beliefs in most – but not all – cases. This hinges on whether a question is “causal” or “non-causal”: Causal beliefs depend on sociotropic variables, especially education and ideology; non-causal beliefs, in contrast, depend on egocentric variables, with income growth playing the leading role. This is consistent with a cognitive model where actors answer easier questions using personal experience, and harder ones with ``off-the-shelf" theories. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-006-9026-z
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 128 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 367-381

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:128:y:2006:i:3:p:367-381

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

Related research

Keywords: Economic beliefs; Sociotropic voting; Voter cognition;

References

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  1. Kenny, Lawrence W., 1982. "Economies of scale in schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-24, February.
  2. Caplan, Bryan, 2001. "What Makes People Think Like Economists? Evidence on Economic Cognition from the "Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy."," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 395-426, October.
  3. Robert J. Blendon, 1997. "Bridging the Gap between the Public's and Economists' Views of the Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 105-118, Summer.
  4. Bryan Caplan, 2002. "Systematically Biased Beliefs About Economics: Robust Evidence of Judgemental Anomalies from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 433-458, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Hans Pitlik & Gerhard Schwarz & Barbara Bechter & Bernd Brandl, 2011. "Near Is My Shirt but Nearer Is My Skin: Ideology or Self‐Interest as Determinants of Public Opinion on Fiscal Policy Issues," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 271-290, 05.
  2. Aggarwal, Raj & Goodell, John W., 2013. "Political-economy of pension plans: Impact of institutions, gender, and culture," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1860-1879.
  3. Elinder, Mikael, 2009. "Correcting Mistakes: Cognitive Dissonance and Political Attitudes in Sweden and the United States," Working Paper Series 802, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  4. John Goodell & Richard Bodey, 2012. "Price-earnings changes during US presidential election cycles: voter uncertainty and other determinants," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 633-650, March.
  5. Bryan Caplan & Stephen Miller, 2012. "Positive versus normative economics: what’s the connection? Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy and the General Social Survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 241-261, January.

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