Economists and public opinion: Expert consensus and economic policy judgments

Journal Article (Journal Article)

How do citizens view economists, and how do they respond to consensus in the profession? We examine the responsiveness of the American public to information regarding the distribution of opinion among economists on five economic policy issues. We also examine the extent and role of citizens' trust in economists. We find that trust is tepid and find correspondingly small-To-moderate changes in public opinion when citizens are given information about expert opinion. Indeed, we provide evidence that responsiveness is larger when the consensus is attributed to a generic sample of people than when it is attributed to economists. We also find heterogeneity in responsiveness across issues, such that opinion change is smaller on symbolic policy issues than technical ones. Further, on the former, but not the latter, we find that citizens use judgments of trust in economists in a motivated fashion, to reinforce prior opinions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnston, CD; Ballard, AO

Published Date

  • April 1, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 78 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 443 - 456

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-2508

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3816

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/684629

Citation Source

  • Scopus