What Do People Know About the Economy? A Test of Minimal Economic Knowledge in Germany

48 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2012

See all articles by Inga Wobker

Inga Wobker

Zeppelin University - Institute of Corporate Management & Economics

Marco Lehmann-Waffenschmidt

Dresden University of Technology - Faculty of Economics and Business Management

Peter Kenning

Zeppelin University

Gerd Gigerenzer

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Date Written: October 1, 2012

Abstract

This research evaluates Minimal Economic Knowledge (MEK) in Germany — that is, basic knowledge of economic facts, concepts, and causal relationships needed for understanding and successfully participating in the economy. It is addressed to gain an understanding of the level of Minimal Economic Knowledge in the German public. To fulfill this goal we conducted three studies: The first study developed a scale for measuring MEK using a Delphi method approach.

The resulting questionnaire comprises 24 questions in four economic domains: finance, labor economics, consumption, and state economics, testing for three kinds of knowledge within each domain — facts, concepts, and causal relationships. Our second study tested the MEK level in a representative sample of German adults (N=1,314), with a mean result of 59.4 (of 100) indicating a considerable lack of economic knowledge. It further analyses the influence of demographic drivers such as gender and age. A third, explorative study (N=243) determined additional drivers for MEK such as a person’s origin, life experience, use of media, and social circumstance.

Keywords: economic literacy, drivers, education, laypersons, minimal economic knowledge

JEL Classification: A29, C42, D83

Suggested Citation

Wobker, Inga and Lehmann-Waffenschmidt, Marco and Kenning, Peter and Gigerenzer, Gerd, What Do People Know About the Economy? A Test of Minimal Economic Knowledge in Germany (October 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2190337 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2190337

Inga Wobker (Contact Author)

Zeppelin University - Institute of Corporate Management & Economics ( email )

Am Seemooser Horn 20
DE-88045 Friedrichshafen
Germany

Marco Lehmann-Waffenschmidt

Dresden University of Technology - Faculty of Economics and Business Management ( email )

Mommsenstrasse 13
Dresden, D-01062
Germany

Peter Kenning

Zeppelin University ( email )

Am Seemooser Horn 20
Friedrichshafen, Lake Constance 88045
Germany

Gerd Gigerenzer

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development ( email )

Lentzeallee 94
D-14195 Berlin
Germany

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