Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Updates

New Buturovic-Klein Survey on Economic Enlightenment, Results Coming May 2011

Zeljka Buturovic and Daniel Klein have designed and fielded a new survey with 17 questions of basic economic insight. The survey was completed only recently. The results will appear in the May 2011 issue of Econ Journal Watch.

Their previous study, which was based on a survey designed and fielded by Buturovic for other purposes, generated a great deal of controversy, particularly for its result that leftists scored much lower than conservatives and libertarians in economic enlightenment.

Eleven web critics were invited to write up their criticisms for Econ Journal Watch, and four graciously did so.

The major criticism of the initial study was that some of the eight questions used to gauge economic enlightenment challenged leftist sensibilities, but none specifically challenged conservative or libertarian sensibilities.

Taking this shortcoming to heart (and acknowledging it in their original article), Buturovic and Klein have designed a new survey to overcome the problem. They have expanded the number of economic-enlightenment questions from eight to 17. The expanded set consists of the original eight and nine new questions. The nine new questions challenge conservative and/or libertarian sensibilities.

As in the original survey, the economic questions all had the following format:

Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Somewhat Agree
  3. Somewhat Disagree
  4. Strongly Disagree
  5. Not Sure

The original eight questions, unchanged in the new survey, are as follows:

1. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.
Unenlightened: Disagree

2. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.
Unenlightened: Disagree

3. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.
Unenlightened: Disagree

4. Rent control leads to housing shortages.
Unenlightened: Disagree

5. A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.
Unenlightened: Agree

6. Third-world workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.
Unenlightened: Agree

7. Free trade leads to unemployment.
Unenlightened: Agree

8. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.
Unenlightened: Disagree

The nine new questions, all of which challenge conservative and/or libertarian sensibilities, are as follows:

9. A dollar means more to a poor person than it does to a rich person.
Unenlightened: Disagree

10. By participating in the marketplace in the United States, immigrants reduce the economic well-being of American citizens.
Unenlightened: Agree

11. When a country goes to war its citizens experience an improvement in economic well-being.
Unenlightened: Agree

12. Making abortion illegal would increase the number of black-market abortions.
Unenlightened: Disagree

13. Legalizing drugs would give more wealth and power to street gangs and organized crime.
Unenlightened: Agree

14. Drug prohibition fails to reduce people’s access to drugs.
Unenlightened: Disagree

15. Gun-control laws fail to reduce people’s access to guns.
Unenlightened: Disagree

16. When two people complete a voluntary transaction, they both necessarily come away better off.
Unenlightened: Agree

17. When two people complete a voluntary transaction, it is necessarily the case that everyone else is unaffected by their transaction.
Unenlightened: Agree

The results of the new survey will appear in the May 2011 issue of Econ Journal Watch.