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Does economics make you selfish?

Daniele Girardi (), Sai Madhurika Mamunuru (), Simon D Halliday () and Samuel Bowles ()
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Daniele Girardi: Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst (USA)
Sai Madhurika Mamunuru: Department of Economics, Whitman College (USA)
Simon D Halliday: School of Economics, University of Bristol (UK)
Samuel Bowles: Santa Fe Institute (USA)

UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers from University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics

Abstract: It is widely held that studying economics makes you more selfish and politically conservative. We use a difference-in-differences strategy to disentangle the causal impact of economics education from selection effects. We estimate the effect of four different intermediate microeconomics courses on students’ experimentally elicited social preferences and beliefs about others, and policy opinions. We find no discernible effect of studying economics (whatever the course content) on self-interest or beliefs about others’ self-interest. Results on policy preferences also point to little effect, except that economics may make students somewhat less opposed to highly restrictive immigration policies.

Keywords: endogenous preferences; economics education; social preferences; self-interest; generosity; altruism; reciprocity; microeconomics; teaching (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-evo, nep-isf, nep-ltv and nep-mig
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