Is Economics Coursework, or Majoring in Economics, Associated with Different Civic Behaviors?

38 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2010

See all articles by Sam Allgood

Sam Allgood

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Economics

William Bosshardt

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Wilbert van der Klaauw

Federal Reserve Bank of New York; IZA

Michael W. Watts

Purdue University, Krannert School of Management, Department of Economics (deceased)

Date Written: May 1, 2010

Abstract

Studies regularly link levels of educational attainment to civic behavior and attitudes, but only a few investigate the role played by specific coursework. Using data collected from students who attended one of four public universities in our study, we investigate the relationship between economics coursework and civic behavior after graduation. Drawing from large samples of students in economics, business, or general majors, we compare responses across the three groups and by the number of undergraduate economics courses completed. We find that undergraduate coursework in economics is strongly associated with political party affiliation and with donations to candidates or parties, but not with the decision to vote or not vote. Nor is studying economics correlated with the likelihood (or intensity of) volunteerism. While we find that the civic behavior of economics majors and business majors is similar, it appears that business majors are less likely than general majors to engage in time-consuming behaviors such as voting and volunteering. Finally, we extend earlier studies that address the link between economics coursework and attitudes on public policy issues, finding that graduates who studied more economics usually reported attitudes closer to those expressed in national surveys of U.S. economists. Interestingly, we find the public policy attitudes of business majors to be more like those of general majors than of economics majors.

Keywords: economics training, civic behaviors

JEL Classification: A22, A13, D71

Suggested Citation

Allgood, Sam Anthony and Bosshardt, William and van der Klaauw, H. Wilbert and Watts, Michael W., Is Economics Coursework, or Majoring in Economics, Associated with Different Civic Behaviors? (May 1, 2010). FRB of New York Staff Report No. 450. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1619503 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1619503

Sam Anthony Allgood

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Economics ( email )

Lincoln, NE 68588-0489
United States
402-472-3367 (Phone)
402-472-9700 (Fax)

William Bosshardt

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

H. Wilbert Van der Klaauw (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of New York ( email )

33 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10045
United States
212-720-5916 (Phone)
212-720-1844 (Fax)

IZA ( email )

Michael W. Watts

Purdue University, Krannert School of Management, Department of Economics (deceased)

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