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Economic Experts versus Average Americans


  • Paola Sapienza
  • Luigi Zingales


We compare answers to policy questions by economic experts and a representative sample of the US population. We find a 35 percentage point difference between the two groups. This gap is only partially explained by differences in ideological or personal characteristics of the two samples. Interestingly, the difference is the largest on the questions where economists agree the most and where there is the largest amount of literature. Informing people of the expert opinions does not seem to have much of an impact. Ordinary people seem to be skeptical of the implicit assumptions embedded into the economists' answers.

Suggested Citation

  • Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2013. "Economic Experts versus Average Americans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 636-642, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:3:p:636-42
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.636

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Emporiophobia!
      by (Carola Binder) in Quantitative Ease on 2014-01-06 02:10:00


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Jordi Brandts & Leonie Gerhards & Lydia Mechtenberg, 2018. "Deliberative Structures and their Impact on Voting under Economic Conflict," Working Papers 1022, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    2. van Dalen, Harry, 2019. "Do the Values of Economists Matter in the Art and Science of Economics?," Discussion Paper 2019-004, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. repec:eee:ecolec:v:157:y:2019:i:c:p:141-155 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Timothy C. Haab & John C. Whitehead, 2017. "What do Environmental and Resource Economists Think? Results from a Survey of AERE Members," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(1), pages 43-58.
    5. repec:taf:jeduce:v:48:y:2017:i:2:p:74-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Marion Fourcade & Etienne Ollion & Yann Algan, 2015. "La superioridad de los economistas," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 17(33), pages 13-43, July-Dece.
    7. Karl Beyer & Stephan Puehringer, 2019. "Divided we stand? Professional consensus and political conflict in academic economics," ICAE Working Papers 94, Johannes Kepler University, Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy.
    8. van Dalen, Harry, 2019. "Values of economists matter in the art and science of economics," Other publications TiSEM eb9877cc-e840-4625-bcee-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    9. Jordi Brandts & Isabel Busom & Cristina Lopez-Mayan & Judith Panadés, 2019. "Dispelling Misconceived Beliefs about Rent Control: Insights from a Field and a Laboratory Experiment," Working Papers 1096, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design


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