Economic experts or laypeople? How teachers and journalists judge trade and immigration policies
It is widely acknowledged that lay and expert perspectives on the economy widely diverge. In this context, teachers and journalists play a major role because they act as promoters for economic knowledge transfer through schools and media. This study analyzes how teachers and journalists judge economic policies and whether they are closer to an expert or a lay way of thinking. In four separate surveys, randomly chosen German adults (n=190), economists (n=80), social studies teachers (n=97) and economic journalists (n=90) were presented two policy proposals from the trade and immigration policy domain. Consistent with existing evidence, a large majority of the economists favored free trade and labor mobility and judged them as economically efficient and fair, while most of the laypeople hold contrary views. The answers from journalists and teachers generally lay in between economists and laypeople—with teachers being closer to laypeople and journalists tending more towards the economists. Interestingly however, teachers and journalists reverted to the same criteria for the judgment of economic policies as laypeople. All three groups based their judgments nearly exclusively on a policy proposal’s perceived fairness, while economists strongly focused on its economic efficiency.
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