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What Does the Public Know about Economic Policy, and How Does It Know It?

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Author Info

  • Blinder, Alan S.

    ()
    (Princeton University)

  • Krueger, Alan B.

    ()
    (Princeton University)

Abstract

Public opinion influences politicians, and therefore influences public policy decisions. What are the roles of self-interest, knowledge, and ideology in public opinion formation? And how do people learn about economic issues? Using a new, specially-designed survey, we find that most respondents express a strong desire to be well informed on economic policy issues, and that television is their dominant source of information. On a variety of major policy issues (e.g., taxes, social security, health insurance), ideology is the most important determinant of public opinion, while measures of self-interest are the least important. Knowledge about the economy ranks somewhere in between.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1324.

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Length: 62 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2004:1
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1324

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Keywords: knowledge; public opinion; ideology;

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  1. Hansen, Karsten T & Heckman, James J & Mullen, Kathleen J, 2003. "The effect of schooling and ability on achievement test scores," Working Paper Series, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy 2003:13, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  2. Blinder, Alan S & Morgan, John, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better than One? Monetary Policy by Committee," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 789-811, October.
  3. Bryan Caplan, 2002. "Sociotropes, Systematic Bias, and Political Failure: Reflections on the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 83(2), pages 416-435.
  4. Sendhil Mullainathan & Andrei Shleifer, 2005. "The Market for News," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1031-1053, September.
  5. David Romer, 1997. "Misconceptions and Political Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 6117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, . "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Working Papers 121, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1998. "Economists' Views about Parameters, Values, and Policies: Survey Results in Labor and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1387-1425, September.
  8. 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.
  9. Dan Fuller & Doris Geide-stevenson, 2003. "Consensus Among Economists: Revisited," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(4), pages 369-387, December.
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  11. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
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