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Political Economists are Neither Selfish nor Indoctrinated

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Stephan Meier

Abstract

Most professional economists believe that economist in general are more selfish than other persons and that this greater selfishness is due to economic education. In this paper we offer empirical evidence against this widely held belief. Using a unique data set about giving behaviour to two social funds at the University of Zurich, it is shown that economic training does not make people act more selfish. However, the 'natural experiment' supports the hypothesis that the different behaviour of economist can be explained by a selection effect.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 069.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:069

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Keywords: Economists; Public Good; Giving Behaviour;

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References

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  1. Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(1), pages 15-25, 01-02.
  2. Stanley, T. D. & Tran, Ume, 1998. "Economics students need not be greedy: Fairness and the ultimatum game," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 657-663.
  3. Stephanie Seguino & Thomas Stevens & Mark Lutz, 1996. "Gender and cooperative behavior: economic man rides alone," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(1), pages 1-21.
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  6. David Laband & Richard Biel, 1999. "Are economists more selfish than other `social' scientists?," Artefactual Field Experiments 00076, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Bruno S. Frey & Iris Bohnet, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 335-339, March.
  8. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. " Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
  9. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
  10. Frank, Bjorn & Schulze, Gunther G., 2000. "Does economics make citizens corrupt?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 101-113, September.
  11. Bram Cadsby, C. & Maynes, Elizabeth, 1998. "Gender and free riding in a threshold public goods game: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 603-620, March.
  12. Reiner Eichenberger & Felix Oberholzer-Gee, 1998. "Rational moralists: The role of fairness in democratic economic politics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(1), pages 191-210, January.
  13. Andreoni,J., 2004. "Philantropy," Working papers 7, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  14. Blais, Andre & Young, Robert, 1999. " Why Do People Vote? An Experiment in Rationality," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 39-55, April.
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  16. Gregory Brunk, 1980. "The impact of rational participation models on voting attitudes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(5), pages 549-564, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Aleksander Berentsen & Guillaume Rocheteau, . "Money and the Gains from Trade," IEW - Working Papers 100, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, . "Two Concerns about Rational Choice: Indoctrination and Imperialism," IEW - Working Papers 104, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Berentsen, Aleksander & Rocheteau, Guillaume, 2002. "On the efficiency of monetary exchange: how divisibility of money matters," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 1621-1649, November.
  4. Reto Foellmi & Urs Meister, 2004. "Product-Market Competition in the Water Industry: Voluntary Nondiscriminatory Pricing," Working Papers 0032, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
  5. Dufwenberg, Martin & Muren, Astri, 2002. "Discrimination by Gender and Social Distance," Research Papers in Economics 2002:2, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  6. Aleksander Berentsen & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2004. "Money and Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 915-944.

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