The People and the Experts

Paper by William D. Nordhaus & Douglas Rivers: “Are speculators driving up oil prices? Should we raise energy prices to slow global warming? The present study takes a small number of such questions and compares the views of economic experts with those of the public. This comparison uses a panel of more than 2000 respondents from YouGov with the views of the panel of experts from the Initiative on Global Markets at the Chicago Booth School. We found that most of the US population is at best modestly informed about major economic questions and policies. The low level of knowledge is generally associated with the intrusion of ideological, political, and religious views that challenge or deny the current economic consensus. The intruding factors are highly heterogeneous across questions and sub-populations and are much more diverse than the narrowness of public political discourse would suggest. Many of these findings have been established for scientific subjects, but they appear to be equally important for economic views…(More)”.