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What Does the Public Know about Economic Policy, and How Does It Know It?

  • Blinder, Alan S.


    (Princeton University)

  • Krueger, Alan B.


    (Princeton University)

Public opinion influences politicians, and therefore influences public policy decisions. What are the roles of self-interest, knowledge, and ideology in public opinion formation? And how do people learn about economic issues? Using a new, specially-designed survey, we find that most respondents express a strong desire to be well informed on economic policy issues, and that television is their dominant source of information. On a variety of major policy issues (e.g., taxes, social security, health insurance), ideology is the most important determinant of public opinion, while measures of self-interest are the least important. Knowledge about the economy ranks somewhere in between.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1324.

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Length: 62 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2004:1
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1324
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  1. Karsten Hansen & James J. Heckman & Kathleen J. Mullen, 2003. "The Effect of Schooling and Ability on Achievement Test Scores," NBER Working Papers 9881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," NBER Working Papers 6329, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Romer, 2003. "Misconceptions and Political Outcomes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(484), pages 1-20, January.
  4. Sendhil Mullainathan & Andrei Shleifer, 2005. "The Market for News," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1031-1053, September.
  5. Robert J. Blendon, 1997. "Bridging the Gap between the Public's and Economists' Views of the Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 105-118, Summer.
  6. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  7. Dan Fuller & Doris Geide-stevenson, 2003. "Consensus Among Economists: Revisited," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(4), pages 369-387, December.
  8. Blinder, Alan S & Morgan, John, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better than One? Monetary Policy by Committee," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 789-811, October.
  9. Bryan Caplan, 2002. "Sociotropes, Systematic Bias, and Political Failure: Reflections on the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 83(2), pages 416-435.
  10. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1998. "Economists' Views about Parameters, Values, and Policies: Survey Results in Labor and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1387-1425, September.
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