Monday, 29 August 2011

Thinking like economists and thoughts about economists

Chris Auld finds that people without a high school education are most likely to think that economists are know-nothings. The proportion of GSS respondents having such views is mostly declining in education. From Auld:

This is consistent with what I'd found on correlates of economic thinking in New Zealand - the more educated are more likely to agree with what I'd taken as consensus economist views. And, with what Bryan found in the States. But I don't recall seeing anything like that uptick among grad school folks, though I'd have to double check. The questions I'd used as indicating economic thinking all touched on microeconomic rather than macro issues: whether wage and price controls are a good idea; whether high income taxes make people less willing to work hard; whether we should have import controls.

Perhaps folks who've gone to grad school encounter too many folks who've done too much macro?


  1. At a guess I'd say that proportion of grad school types thinks EVERYBODY else knows nothing at all.

  2. I'd have similar sentiments to Bill - but I would frame it that people who have been to grad school realise that, in general, no-one really knows anything.

  3. Are engineers over-represented in post-grad?

  4. The difference between college and grad school for the outcome in that graph (economists know "nothing at all") is kinda statistically significant unconditionally (p=0.08), but it's not statistically significant after conditioning on demographics, and it's not statistically significant for the overall response pattern in ordered probits. Note the sample is pretty small.

    That said, maybe the point estimates aren't misleading and people with graduate education really are more cynical regarding economics. I'd like to know what the distribution of responses would look like among economics professors.