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Is Economics Coursework, or Majoring in Economics, Associated with Different Civic Behaviors?


  • Sam Allgood
  • William Bosshardt
  • Wilbert van der Klaauw
  • Michael Watts


Using data collected from graduates who attended four large public universities in 1976, 1986, or 1996, the authors investigate the relationship between studying economics and civic behaviors. They compare students who majored in economics, business, or other majors, and by the number of undergraduate economics courses completed. Coursework is strongly associated with political party affiliation and donating money to candidates or parties, but not with voting in presidential, state, or local elections, nor with the likelihood or intensity of volunteerism. Business majors are less likely to engage in voting and volunteering. More economics coursework is usually associated with attitudes on policy issues closer to those reported in surveys of U.S. economists, while attitudes of business majors are more like those of general majors than economics majors.

Suggested Citation

  • Sam Allgood & William Bosshardt & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Michael Watts, 2012. "Is Economics Coursework, or Majoring in Economics, Associated with Different Civic Behaviors?," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(3), pages 248-268, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:43:y:2012:i:3:p:248-268 DOI: 10.1080/00220485.2012.686389

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell & Vilsa Curto, 2009. "Financial Literacy among the Young," Working Papers wp191, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S Mitchelli, 2007. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Preparedness: Evidence and Implications for Financial Education," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 42(1), pages 35-44, January.
    3. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
    4. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2001. "Defined Contribution Pensions: Plan Rules, Participant Decisions, and the Path of Least Resistance," NBER Working Papers 8655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Annamaria Lusardi, 2007. "Household Saving Behavior: The Role of Literacy, Information and Financial Education Programs," CeRP Working Papers 65, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
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    Cited by:

    1. Franklin G. Mixon & Richard J. Cebula (ed.), 2014. "New Developments in Economic Education," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15538.
    2. John V. Winters & Weineng Xu, 2014. "Geographic Differences in the Earnings of Economics Majors," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(3), pages 262-276, September.
    3. Amélie Goossens & Pierre-Guillaume Méon, 2015. "The Belief that Market Transactions Are Mutually Beneficial: A Comparison of the Views of Students in Economics and Other Disciplines," Post-Print CEB 2013/162215, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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