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Political Economists are Neither Selfish Nor Indoctrinated

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Stephan Meier

Abstract

Most professional economists believe that economists in general are more selfish than other persons and that this greater selfishness is due to economics education. This paper 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2001. "Political Economists are Neither Selfish Nor Indoctrinated," CESifo Working Paper Series 490, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_490
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo_wp490.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Laband, David N & Beil, Richard O, 1999. "Are Economists More Selfish Than Other 'Social' Scientists?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 100(1-2), pages 85-101, July.
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    6. Andreoni, James, 2006. "Philanthropy," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
    7. Stephanie Seguino & Thomas Stevens & Mark Lutz, 1996. "Gender and cooperative behavior: economic man rides alone," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(1), pages 1-21.
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    9. Stanley, T. D. & Tran, Ume, 1998. "Economics students need not be greedy: Fairness and the ultimatum game," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 657-663.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Aleksander Berentsen & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2004. "Money and Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 915-944.
    2. Berentsen, Aleksander & Rocheteau, Guillaume, 2002. "On the efficiency of monetary exchange: how divisibility of money matters," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 1621-1649, November.
    3. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, "undated". "Two Concerns about Rational Choice: Indoctrination and Imperialism," IEW - Working Papers 104, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    4. Reto Foellmi & Urs Meister, 2005. "Product-Market Competition in the Water Industry: Voluntary Non-discriminatory Pricing," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 115-135, June.
    5. Aleksander Berentsen & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2003. "Money and the Gains from Trade," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(1), pages 263-297, February.
    6. Dufwenberg, Martin & Muren, Astri, 2002. "Discrimination by Gender and Social Distance," Research Papers in Economics 2002:2, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economists; public good; giving behavior; education; selection;

    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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