In a highly non-scientific exercise, I kicked off my Principles of Food and Resource Economics (Honors) class yesterday by asking the students their opinion on 23 statements about economic situations that I pulled from published (or soon-to-be published) surveys of professional economists. Most of the statements were pulled from Robert Whaple's "The Policy Views of American Economic Association Members: The Results of a New Survey." (Which isn't so new anymore). The remainder of the statements are pulled from a BRILLIANT new piece forthcoming in the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy "What Do Environmental and Resource Economists Think? Results from a Survey of AERE Members." Admittedly, the samples of economists and students are very different (General economists vs environmental and resource economists vs non-economist honors students), but I thought the comparison might lead to interesting class discussions. The 15 student sample consists of students from 1st -year to 4th-year and majors ranging from environmental studies to business to pre-veterinary and more. No students were economics majors.
Respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement on a 5-point Likert-scale (1 being Strongly Disagree, 5 being Strongly Agree).
Here are the average responses (Economist results denoted by a * are from the survey of AERE members. Otherwise, results are from AEA members):
- The U.S. Should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade.
Students: 2.21, Economists 4.09
- The U.S. should increase benefits to workers who lose their jobs due to international competition.
Students: 2.92, Economists 3.35
- The U.S. should ban genetically modified crops.
Students: 1.71, Economists 1.79
- Laws mandating municipal curbside recycling should be eliminated.
Students: 1.93, Economists 2.50
- Employers in the U.S. should be required to provide health insurance to ALL their employees.
Students: 3.62, Economists 2.21
- Employers in the U.S. should be taxed if their employee health insurance expenditures fall below a certain threshold.
Students: 2.69, Economists 2.24
- State governments in the U.S. should eliminate mandates about what health insurance must cover.
Students: 2.57, Economists 3.01
- The U.S. should place more stringent caps on medical malpractice awards.
Students: 3.18, Economists 3.19
- Barriers to entering the medical profession in the U.S. should be reduced.
Students: 2.46, Economists 3.60
- The U.S. should allow payments to organ donors and their families.
Students: 2.79, Economists 3.75
- The U.S. should impose taxes on unhealthy foods.
Students: 2.50, Economists 2.39
- The U.S. should change the income tax code so that health insurance benefits are taxed the same as income.
Students: 2.57, Economists 2.94
- The U.S. should change the income tax code to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction.
Students: 2.73, Economists 3.07
- The U.S. should exempt internet sales from taxation.
Students: 2.29, Economists* 2.59
- A manufacturer that voluntarily reduces the environmental impact of its production process and products is making a smart business decision.
Students: 3.50, Economists 3.32
- A Wal-Mart store typically generates more benefits than costs.
Students: 2.92, Economists 3.86
- A casino typically generates more benefits than costs.
Students: 2.77, Economists 2.51
- Economic growth in developed countries like the U.S. leads to greater levels of happiness.
Students: 3.29, Economists 3.37
- Economic growth in developed countries like the U.S. leads to greater levels of well-being.
Students: 3.43, Economists* 4.24
- Population growth inevitably degrades the environment.
Students: 3.50, Economists* 3.05
- Economic growth is needed in order to protect the environment.
Students: 3.07, Economists* 3.21
- We worry too much about the future of the environment and not enough about prices and jobs today.
Students: 2.29, Economists* 1.87
- I am very confused about what’s good and what’s bad for the environment.
Students: 2.29, Economists* 2.00
I'm reserving judgment until after class tomorrow when I can have a discussion, but my preliminary non-scientific assessment is that this class is more accepting of government intervention than economists in general, don;t yet understand the benefits of market based interventions, and they hate Walmart.
More tomorrow after the class discussion.