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Does Economic Education Make a Difference in Congress? How Economics Majors Vote on Trade


  • J. Brian O’Roark


The author of this article expands the background theory of voting to incorporate the undergraduate majors of members of Congress. Examining nine votes on trade across the 109th and 110th Congresses reveals that economics majors are the only category of college major to vote in favor of free trade in a predictable way. Controls for a variety of factors including ideology, race, campaign contributions, and the inclusion of votes specifically on Cuba fail to diminish the effect. While economics majors are more likely to take a free trade position, not every vote that presupposes a free trade outcome is supported by economics majors. On the issue of sugar subsidies, being an economics major does not influence the direction of a congressional member's vote.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Brian O’Roark, 2012. "Does Economic Education Make a Difference in Congress? How Economics Majors Vote on Trade," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(4), pages 423-439, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:43:y:2012:i:4:p:423-439 DOI: 10.1080/00220485.2012.714319

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1993. "Investments, Holdup, and the Form of Market Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 811-837, September.
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    8. Coase, R H, 2000. "The Acquisition of Fisher Body by General Motors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 15-31, April.
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