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What Makes People Think Like Economists? Evidence on Economic Cognition from the "Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy."

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  • Caplan, Bryan

Abstract

The positive economic beliefs of economists and the general public systematically differ. What factors make noneconomists think more like economists? Using the "Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," this paper shows people think more like economists (1) if they are well educated, (2) if they are male, (3) if their real income rose over the last 5 years, (4) if they expect their real income to rise over the next 5 years, or (5) if they have a high degree of job security. However, neither high income nor ideological conservatism have this effect. My findings for education, gender, and income have close parallels in political science: on tests of objective political knowledge, the better educated and males score higher, controlling for numerous other variables, and the independent effect of income is minor. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:44:y:2001:i:2:p:395-426
    DOI: 10.1086/322812
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