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

Posted: 30 Sep 2001

See all articles by Bryan Caplan

Bryan Caplan

George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Abstract

The positive economic beliefs of economists and the general public systematically differ. What factors make non-economists think more like economists? Using the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy, this paper shows people think more like economists: if they are well-educated; if they are male; if their real income rose over the last five years; if they expect their real income to rise over the next five years; or if they have high degrees 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.

Suggested Citation

Caplan, Bryan, What Makes People Think Like Economists? Evidence on Economic Cognition from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy. J of Law & Economics, Vol. 44, No. 2, Pt. 1, October 2001, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=280102

Bryan Caplan (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice ( email )

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George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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