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(Why) Are Economists Different?

  • Gebhard Kirchgässner

After presenting some casual evidence about the difference between economists and the rest of the population, first the survey and experimental evidence which has been presented on this topic during the last 20 years is discussed. But can these results really be transferred to real world situations? To show this, examples of referenda results in Switzerland are presented where the citizens decided against recommendations of most economists. But what is so particular in economic theory that causes these different convictions? Some explanations are given with respect to positive economic theory and with respect to the normative convictions of economists. The paper concludes with possible consequences which economists might draw. Nachdem an Fallbeispielen Unterschiede in den Auffassungen von Ökonomen einerseits und dem Rest der Bevölkerung andererseits aufgezeigt wurde, wird zunächst die empirische Evidenz zu diesem Faktum aus Umfragen und Experimenten zusammengefasst. Wie weit sind diese Ergebnisse auf Situationen realen Handelns übertragbar? Um dies zu zeigen, wird auf Ergebnisse von Referenden verwiesen, in welchen sich die Bürger entgegen den Empfehlungen fast aller Ökonomen entschieden haben. Dann wird gezeigt, welche Eigenheiten der (positiven) ökonomischen Theorie wie der normativen Überzeugungen der (meisten) Ökonomen zu diesen Unterschieden führen. Die Arbeit schliesst mit Hinweisen zu Konsequenzen, zu denen sich Ökonomen in dieser Situation veranlasst sehen könnten.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen in its series University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2004 with number 2004-18.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2004:2004-18
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