Monday, June 14, 2010

Evidence on the goodness of economists

Does economics make you a nicer, better person? I know what you are thinking and I am inclined to agree but there is nothing like some good evidence. This paper looks at the association between economics study and pro-social behaviour including voter turnout and volunteering.

Is economics coursework, or majoring in economics, associated with different civic behaviors?
S Allgood, W Bosshardt,W an der Klaauw,M Watts
Studies regularly link levels of educational attainment to civic behavior and attitudes, but only a few investigate the role played by specific coursework. Using data collected from students who attended one of four public universities in our study, we investigate the relationship between economics coursework and civic behavior after graduation. Drawing from large samples of students in economics, business, or general majors, we compare responses across the three groups and by the number of undergraduate economics courses completed. We find that undergraduate coursework in economics is strongly associated with political party affiliation and with donations to candidates or parties, but not with the decision to vote or not vote. Nor is studying economics correlated with the likelihood (or intensity of) volunteerism.

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