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Economic Beliefs and Economic Attitudes: Results from Principles of Economics. Dan Settlage, Latisha Settlage, & Jim Wollscheid University of Arkansas – Fort Smith October 27, 2011. Presentation Outline. Motivation of Research Summary of Methods Used Knowledge Survey Attitude Survey

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Economic beliefs and economic attitudes results from principles of economics

Economic Beliefs and Economic Attitudes: Results from Principles of Economics

Dan Settlage, Latisha Settlage, & Jim Wollscheid

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith

October 27, 2011


Presentation outline
Presentation Outline Principles of Economics

  • Motivation of Research

  • Summary of Methods Used

    • Knowledge Survey

    • Attitude Survey

  • Discussion of Results

    • Descriptive Statistics

    • Evidence of Change

  • Directions for Future Exploration


Motivation of research
Motivation of Research Principles of Economics

  • Economics students often begin principles courses with preconceived notions (often false) that shape their worldview and influence their learning environment.

  • Selected Literature

    • Table 1 – Chapter 2; “Principles of Economics”

      • N. Gregory Mankiw

    • “The Myth of the Rational Voter”

      • Bryan Caplan

    • “Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy”

      • The Washington Post/Harvard University

    • “Initial Misconceptions in a Macro Principles Class”

      • William Goffe


Motivation cont
Motivation (cont.) Principles of Economics

  • We seek to answer the following questions:

    • How knowledgeable are principles students about general economic conditions?

      • Inflation, unemployment, economic growth

    • Is knowledge correlated with attitudes regarding basic economic principles?

    • Do we make a difference in the classroom?


Summary of methods used
Summary of Methods Used Principles of Economics

  • Two surveys were administered to principles of economics students (start of spring 2011)

    • Knowledge Survey

    • Attitude Survey

  • Surveys completed by both macro and micro students.

    • 278 observations (56% macro)


Summary of methods used1
Summary of Methods Used Principles of Economics

  • Knowledge Survey

    • Descriptive statistics compiled and compared to correct answers.

  • Attitude Survey

    • Histograms of responses.

    • Relationship between attitudes at the beginning and end of the semester examined.


Knowledge survey historical perspective
Knowledge Survey – Principles of EconomicsHistorical Perspective

  • Considering period from 1950 to today, students were asked to provide average annual percentages, max rate and min rate for:

    • Unemployment

    • Inflation

  • Also asked to identify:

    • Number of recessions since 1950

      • Average length in months

      • Longest and shortest

    • Growth in real income


Knowledge survey current perspective
Knowledge Survey – Principles of EconomicsCurrent Perspective

  • Also asked to provide current percentages for:

    • Unemployment

    • Inflation

    • Workers employed at minimum wage jobs

    • Proportion of federal income tax paid by top 20 percent of income earners

    • Proportion of federal income tax paid by bottom 20 percent of income earners

    • Prices controlled by government

    • National debt relative to national income


Economic attitudes survey
Economic Attitudes Survey Principles of Economics

  • Students asked to rank their agreement or disagreement with various economic statements.

  • Likert scale:

    • 5 – strongly agree

    • 4 – agree

    • 3 – neither agree or disagree

    • 2 – disagree

    • 1 – strongly disagree


Economic attitudes survey1
Economic Attitudes Survey Principles of Economics

  • Example statements:

    • Trade/immigration is beneficial to U.S. economy.

    • Govt should restrict companies from outsourcing work.

    • Taxes are too high for the poor/rich.

    • Income has increased faster than the cost of living.

    • The national debt is too big.

    • Inflation/unemployment is a big problem in the U.S.

    • Minimum wage is too low.

    • Social security will be there for me when I retire.

    • Government should control more prices.


Results unemployment rate
Results – Unemployment Rate Principles of Economics


Results inflation rate
Results – Inflation Rate Principles of Economics


Results misc econ knowledge
Results – Misc. Econ. Knowledge Principles of Economics


Results misc econ knowledge1
Results – Misc. Econ. Knowledge Principles of Economics


Pre-Survey Average (Blue) 4.50 Principles of Economics

Post-Survey Average (Red) 4.68

Difference (Post-Pre) 0.18


Pre-Survey Average (Blue) 3.27 Principles of Economics

Post-Survey Average (Red) 3.37

Difference (Post-Pre) 0.09


Pre-Survey Average (Blue) 3.01 Principles of Economics

Post-Survey Average (Red) 3.52

Difference (Post-Pre) -0.51


Pre-Survey Average (Blue) 2.58 Principles of Economics

Post-Survey Average (Red) 2.50

Difference (Post-Pre) -0.08


Pre-Survey Average (Blue) 3.45 Principles of Economics

Post-Survey Average (Red) 3.24

Difference (Post-Pre) -0.21


Pre-Survey Average (Blue) 2.58 Principles of Economics

Post-Survey Average (Red) 2.80

Difference (Post-Pre) 0.22


Pre-Test Average (Blue) 4.60 Principles of Economics

Post-Test Average (Red) 4.40

Difference (Post-Pre) -0.20


Pre-Test Average (Blue) 3.65 Principles of Economics

Post-Test Average (Red) 3.32

Difference (Post-Pre) -0.32


Pre-Test Average (Blue) 4.29 Principles of Economics

Post-Test Average (Red) 3.98

Difference (Post-Pre) -0.31


Pre-Test Average (Blue) 3.45 Principles of Economics

Post-Test Average (Red) 3.23

Difference (Post-Pre) -0.22


Pre-Test Average (Blue) 2,43 Principles of Economics

Post-Test Average (Red) 2.10

Difference (Post-Pre) -0.33


Pre-Test Average (Blue) 2.64 Principles of Economics

Post-Test Average (Red) 2.46

Difference (Post-Pre) -0.18


Directions for future exploration
Directions for Future Exploration Principles of Economics

  • Administer a demographic and personality survey.

    • Link perception and knowledge to demographic variables as well as locus of control measures

  • Capture student knowledge and perception beyond principles sequence (i.e., as an incoming freshman and senior).


Thank you for your attention and participation questions

Thank you for your attention and participation! Principles of EconomicsQuestions??

Dan Settlage, Latisha Settlage, Jim Wollscheid

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith


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