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Are Political Economists Selfish and Indoctrinated? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Stephan Meier

Abstract

Most professional economists believe that economists in general are more selfish than other people and that this increased selfishness is due to economics education. This article offers empirical evidence against this widely held belief. Using a unique data set about giving behavior in connection with two social funds at the University of Zurich, it is shown that economics education does not make people act more selfishly. Rather, this natural experiment suggests that the particular behavior of economists can be explained by a selection effect. (JEL A13, A20, H41) Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

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  • Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2003. "Are Political Economists Selfish and Indoctrinated? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(3), pages 448-462, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:41:y:2003:i:3:p:448-462
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/ei/cbg020
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    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A20 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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