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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. David G. Blanchflower & David N.F. Bell & Alberto Montagnoli & Mirko Moro, 2014. "The Happiness Trade‐Off between Unemployment and Inflation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 46(S2), pages 117-141, October.
    3. Eichengreen, Barry & Aksoy, Cevat Giray & Saka, Orkun, 2021. "Revenge of the experts: Will COVID-19 renew or diminish public trust in science?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    4. Hendrik P. van Dalen, 2019. "Values of Economists Matter in the Art and Science of Economics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 72(3), pages 472-499, August.
    5. Stefanie Stantcheva, 2020. "Understanding Tax Policy: How Do People Reason?," NBER Working Papers 27699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Drews, Stefan & Savin, Ivan & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2019. "Opinion Clusters in Academic and Public Debates on Growth-vs-Environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 141-155.
    7. 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.
    8. Dorine Boumans & Klaus Gründler & Niklas Potrafke & Fabian Ruthardt & Fabian Ruthardt, 2021. "The Global Economic Impact of Politicians: Evidence from an International Survey RCT," EconPol Working Paper 56, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    9. Isabel Busom & Cristina Lopez-Mayan & Judith Panadés, 2017. "Students' persistent preconceptions and learning economic principles," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(2), pages 74-92, April.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Arnemann, Laura & Konrad, Kai A. & Potrafke, Niklas, 2021. "Collective Memories on the 2010 European Debt Crisis ," CEPR Discussion Papers 15683, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Jordi Brandts & Isabel Busom & Cristina Lopez-Mayan & Judith Panadés, 2019. "Dispelling Misconceived Beliefs: Insights from Experiments," 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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