Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Economic education and opinions about free markets

Public opinion about economic policy in France and the United States are very contrasted. In France, free markets are viewed very suspiciously and government intervention is required left and right. In the US, it is about the opposite, the government should stay out of any business and no tax can be justified. I find it very frustrating to talk to people (not economists) from both countries as they seem conditioned to believe steadfastly in their view. In the case of France, I was nice shocked to hear an elected politician claim that social security could easily be fixed by taking the money that "lies" in the banks.

Radu Vranceanu and Jerome Barthelemy try to relate beliefs in economic paradigms and economic education. Through a survey, they asked French Internet users about their knowledge of basic economic principles, their views on pro-market reforms, along with various demographic and education indicators. The survey was linked from a business school's website, so answers come from a population likely to be more interested than average in economic issue, and probably more likely to be open to pro-business reforms than the average French citizen. Still, it is clear that economic literacy is a god predictor of open-mindedness towards free markets. I bet it is just the opposite in the US.

No comments: