The Encyclopedia of Public Choice pp 504-507
Economists Versus the Public on Economic Policy
Most economists know from personal experience that their perspective on the economy is unpopular. When they teach introductory students or write a basic textbook, one of their main goals is to correct students’ misconceptions. What makes this task easier is that students usually share the same misconceptions. They resist the standard critique of price controls, doubt the benefits of free trade, and believe the economy is in secular decline. What makes this task harder, though, is that students usually resist efforts to correct their misconceptions. Even if they learn the material to pass the final exam, only a fraction are genuinely convinced. The position of the modern economic educator is, moreover, far from novel. The 19th-century experiences of Frederic Bastiat in France (1964) and Newcomb (1893) in the United States mirror those of Jeffrey Sachs (1994) in 20th-century Russia.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Alston, Richard, Kearl, J.R., and Michael Vaughan (1992). “Is there a consensus among economists in the 1990s?” American Economic Review, 82: 203–209.Google Scholar
- Bastiat, Frederic (1964). Economic Sophisms. Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: Foundation for Economic Education.Google Scholar
- Blendon, Robert, John Benson, Mollyann Brodie, Richard Morin, Drew Altman, Daniel Gitterman, Mario Brossard, and Matt James (1997). “Bridging the gap between the public’s and economists’ views of the economy.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 11: 105–188.Google Scholar
- Caplan, Bryan (2003). “The logic of collective belief.” Rationality and Society.Google Scholar
- Fuchs, Victor, Alan Krueger, and James Poterba (1998). “Economists’ views about parameters, values, and policies: survey results in labor and public economics.” Journal of Economic Literature, 36: 1387–1425.Google Scholar
- Greider, William (1997). One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. NY: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
- Nasar, Silvia (1995). “Hard act to follow?” New York Times, March 14, C1, C8.Google Scholar
- Sachs, Jeffrey (1994). “Life in the economic emergency room,” in Williamson, John (ed.) The Political Economy of Policy Reform. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics, pp. 503–523.Google Scholar
- Shiller, Robert, Maxim Boycko, and Vladimir Korobov (1991). “Popular attitudes toward free markets: the Soviet Union and the United States compared.” American Economic Review, 81: 385–400.Google Scholar
- Soros, George (1998). The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered. NY: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
- Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy (1996). The Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University, October 16, #1199. Webbed version at: http://www2.kff.org/content/archive/1199/econgen.html.
- Walstad, William and Larsen, M. (1992). A National Survey of American Economic Literacy. Lincoln, Nebraska: The Gallup Organization.Google Scholar