People on the right understand economics better than people on the left

The science is settled. This is the article, Economic Enlightenment in Relation to College-going, Ideology, and Other Variables: A Zogby Survey of Americans, for which this is the abstract.

ABSTRACT We present results of a December 2008 Zogby International nationwide survey of American adults, with 4,835 respondents. We gauge economic enlightenment based on responses to eight economic questions. A number of controversial interpretive issues attend our measure, including: (1) our designation of enlightened answers; (2) an asymmetry in sometimes challenging leftist mentalities without ever specifically challenging conservative and libertarian mentalities; (3) our simple 8-question test is merely a baseline and does not gauge the heights of economic enlightenment; and (4) a concern about response bias—namely, that less intelligent people would be less likely to participate in the survey. Even with the caveats in mind, however, the results are important. They indicate that, for people inclined to take such a survey, basic economic enlightenment is not correlated with going to college. We also show economic enlightenment by ideological groups—the “conservatives” and “libertarians” do significantly better than the “liberals,” “progressives,” and “moderates”—and we show that the finding about education holds up when we look within each ideological group (with perhaps the exception of the “conservative” group). We discuss possible explanations for the finding that economic enlightenment is not correlated with going to college. We also report simple findings for the relation between economic enlightenment and each of the following variables: 2008 presidential vote, party affiliation, voting participation, race or ethnic group, urban vs. rural, religious affiliation, religious participation, union membership, marital status, membership in armed forces, NASCAR fandom, membership in the “investor class,” patronage at Wal-Mart, household income, and gender. We have opted to keep the reporting direct and simple—we have not applied any weights to the data. We do not report any regression results. We make the data available online as a linked appendix and invite others to explore the data for findings beyond those reported here.

This does not relate to my students – “Possible Explanations for the Lack of Correlation between Economic Enlightenment and Going to College – but it is easy enough to understand given what you find in a standard introductory text. This, from the conclusion, seems exactly right.

We advise students and parents to beware of economics-principles courses that either stress blackboard models divorced from judging important policy positions, or that are hostile to classical liberal thinking and values. Students and parents should understand that while academic economists are, relative to other faculty, more attuned to economic enlightened, a substantial majority vote Democratic and maintain an ideological character in line with that of most of the humanities and social-science faculty. In selecting schools and courses, students and parents need to drill down to the individual professor, and investigate his or her webpage and course syllabi. [My bolding]

The economics of wish-fulfilment will ruin any understanding of how an economy works. You can only become a top economic advisor if you can find a major politician to give you a job. That’s where the problem begins, but there is more to it. It is in some sense because no one can rise in an economic institution unless they preach Keynesian macro and marginal analysis in micro, both of which will prevent anyone from making sense of how an economy actually works.

Article found referenced here.

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