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What Makes People Think Like Economists? Evidence on Economic Cognition from the "Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy."

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  • Caplan, Bryan

Abstract

The positive economic beliefs of economists and the general public systematically differ. What factors make noneconomists think more like economists? Using the "Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," this paper shows people think more like economists (1) if they are well educated, (2) if they are male, (3) if their real income rose over the last 5 years, (4) if they expect their real income to rise over the next 5 years, or (5) if they have a high degree of job security. However, neither high income nor ideological conservatism have this effect. My findings for education, gender, and income have close parallels in political science: on tests of objective political knowledge, the better educated and males score higher, controlling for numerous other variables, and the independent effect of income is minor. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 44 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 395-426

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:44:y:2001:i:2:p:395-426

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Haferkamp, Alexandra & Fetchenhauer, Detlef & Belschak, Frank & Enste, Dominik, 2009. "Efficiency versus fairness: The evaluation of labor market policies by economists and laypeople," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 527-539, August.
  3. Nathan Berg & G. Biele & Gerd Gigerenzer, 2013. "Does Consistency Predict Accuracy of Beliefs?: Economists Surveyed About PSA," Working Papers 1308, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2013.
  4. Anthony Evans, 2010. "Austrian economics behind the iron curtain: The rebirth of an intellectual tradition," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 243-268, September.
  5. John V.C. Nye & Sergiy Polyachenko, 2013. "Does education or underlying human capital explain liberal economic attitudes?," HSE Working papers WP BRP 40/EC/2013, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  6. Wobker, Inga & Lehmann-Waffenschmidt, Marco & Kenning, Peter & Gigerenzer, Gerd, 2012. "What do people know about the economy? A test of minimal economic knowledge in Germany," Dresden Discussion Paper Series in Economics 03/12, Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics.
  7. Emily Chamlee-Wright & Virgil Storr, 2010. "Expectations of government’s response to disaster," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 253-274, July.
  8. Klein, Daniel B. & Stern, Charlotta, 2005. "Narrow-Tent Democrats and Fringe Others: The Policy Views of Social Science Professors," Working Paper Series 8/2005, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  9. Triossi, Matteo, 2013. "Costly information acquisition. Is it better to toss a coin?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 169-191.
  10. Bryan Caplan, 2004. "George Tsebelis, Veto Players: How Political Institutions Work," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 260-262, October.
  11. Eric Crampton & Matt Burgess & Brad Taylor, 2011. "The Cost of Cost Studies," Working Papers in Economics 11/29, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  12. Svensson, Mikael, 2006. "The Value of a Statistical Life in Sweden Estimates from Two Studies using the "Certainty Approach" Calibration," Working Papers 2006:6, Örebro University, School of Business, revised 25 Jul 2007.
  13. Bryan Caplan, 2006. "How do voters form positive economic beliefs? Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 367-381, September.
  14. Belfield, Clive R. & Levin, Henry M., 2004. "Should high school economics courses be compulsory?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 351-360, August.
  15. Bryan Caplan & Edward Stringham, 2005. "Mises, bastiat, public opinion, and public choice," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 79-105.
  16. Caplan, Bryan, 2003. "The idea trap: the political economy of growth divergence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 183-203, June.
  17. Williamson, Claudia R., 2012. "Dignity and development," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 763-771.
  18. Stern, Charlotta & Klein, Daniel B., 2006. "Is There a Free-Market Economist in the House? The Policy Views of American Economic Association Members," Working Paper Series 6/2006, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  19. SALMON, Pierre, 2002. "Science économique et sens commun : trois thèses sur leurs relations réciproques," LEG - Document de travail - Economie 2003-02, LEG, Laboratoire d'Economie et de Gestion, CNRS, Université de Bourgogne, revised Jan 2003.
  20. Michael Roos, 2007. "Nonexpert beliefs about the macroeconomic consequences of economic and noneconomic events," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 132(3), pages 291-304, September.
  21. Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde & David Leiser & Rinat Benita, 2010. "Human Foibles or Systemic Failure -- Lay Perceptions of the 2008-09 Financial Crisis," Post-Print ijn_00445611, HAL.

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