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How do voters form positive economic beliefs? Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy

  • Bryan Caplan

    ()

Beliefs about normative economics appear to be primarily determined by sociotropic rather than egocentric variables. (Sears & Funk, 1990; Citrin & Green, 1990) Using the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy, the current paper finds that the same holds for positiveeconomic beliefs in most – but not all – cases. This hinges on whether a question is “causal” or “non-causal”: Causal beliefs depend on sociotropic variables, especially education and ideology; non-causal beliefs, in contrast, depend on egocentric variables, with income growth playing the leading role. This is consistent with a cognitive model where actors answer easier questions using personal experience, and harder ones with ``off-the-shelf" theories. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-006-9026-z
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 128 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 367-381

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:128:y:2006:i:3:p:367-381
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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  1. Bryan Caplan, 2002. "Systematically Biased Beliefs About Economics: Robust Evidence of Judgemental Anomalies from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 433-458, April.
  2. 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.
  3. Caplan, Bryan, 2001. "What Makes People Think Like Economists? Evidence on Economic Cognition from the "Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy."," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 395-426, October.
  4. Kenny, Lawrence W., 1982. "Economies of scale in schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-24, February.
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