American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 3 (May 2013)


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Economic Experts versus Average Americans

Article Citation

Sapienza, Paola, and Luigi Zingales. 2013. "Economic Experts versus Average Americans." American Economic Review, 103(3): 636-42.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.636


We compare answers to policy questions by economic experts and a representative sample of the US population. We find a 35 percentage point difference between the two groups. This gap is only partially explained by differences in ideological or personal characteristics of the two samples. Interestingly, the difference is the largest on the questions where economists agree the most and where there is the largest amount of literature. Informing people of the expert opinions does not seem to have much of an impact. Ordinary people seem to be skeptical of the implicit assumptions embedded into the economists' answers.

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Sapienza, Paola (Northwestern U)
Zingales, Luigi (U Chicago)

JEL Classifications

A11: Role of Economics; Role of Economists
D82: Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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