IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Political Economists are Neither Selfish nor Indoctrinated

  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Stephan Meier

Most professional economists believe that economist in general are more selfish than other persons and that this greater selfishness is due to economic education. In this paper we offer empirical evidence against this widely held belief. Using a unique data set about giving behaviour to two social funds at the University of Zurich, it is shown that economic training does not make people act more selfish. However, the 'natural experiment' supports the hypothesis that the different behaviour of economist can be explained by a selection effect.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 069.

in new window

Date of creation:
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:069
Contact details of provider: Postal: Rämistrasse 71, CH-8006 Zürich
Phone: +41-1-634 21 37
Fax: +41-1-634 49 82
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. David Laband & Richard Biel, 1999. "Are economists more selfish than other `social' scientists?," Artefactual Field Experiments 00076, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
  3. Frank, Bjorn & Schulze, Gunther G., 2000. "Does economics make citizens corrupt?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 101-113, September.
  4. Richard Thaler, 1985. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(3), pages 199-214.
  5. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. " Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
  6. 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.
  7. Andreoni,J., 2004. "Philantropy," Working papers 7, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  8. Blais, Andre & Young, Robert, 1999. " Why Do People Vote? An Experiment in Rationality," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 39-55, April.
  9. Gregory Brunk, 1980. "The impact of rational participation models on voting attitudes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(5), pages 549-564, January.
  10. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
  11. Reiner Eichenberger & Felix Oberholzer-Gee, 1998. "Rational moralists: The role of fairness in democratic economic politics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(1), pages 191-210, January.
  12. 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.
  13. Bruno S. Frey & Iris Bohnet, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 335-339, March.
  14. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  15. Bram Cadsby, C. & Maynes, Elizabeth, 1998. "Gender and free riding in a threshold public goods game: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 603-620, March.
  16. Robert H. Frank & Thomas D. Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1996. "Do Economists Make Bad Citizens?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 187-192, Winter.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:069. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Marita Kieser)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.