Do Economics Courses Improve Students' Analytical Skills? A Difference-in-Difference Estimation

35 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2019

See all articles by Seife Dendir

Seife Dendir

Radford University - Department of Economics

Alexei G. Orlov

Securities and Exchange Commission

John Roufagalas

Troy University - Montgomery

Date Written: August 20, 2019

Abstract

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that provides robust empirical support to the claim that exposure to economics training improves students' analytical skills and problem-solving abilities. We rely on Frederick's (2005) Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) to measure these skills and abilities. The original CRT served as a pre-test, and a CRT-clone was administered as a post-test in a number of classes across various majors at a comprehensive, medium-sized university. Difference-in-difference estimation is used to assess the difference in CRT score improvements between economics and non-economics classes. Our main result shows that students in economics classes improve their analytical skills during the semester by between 7 and 11 percentage points more than those in non-economics classes. We also find that most of this effect is attributable to the economics principles courses. The results remain robust as we vary the number of control variables, the size of the sample and the estimation method, and are nearly always statistically significant at either 1% or 5% level.

Keywords: Economics classes, analytical skills, Cognitive Reflection Test, difference-in-difference estimation

JEL Classification: A22, C13

Suggested Citation

Dendir, Seife and Orlov, Alexei G. and Roufagalas, John, Do Economics Courses Improve Students' Analytical Skills? A Difference-in-Difference Estimation (August 20, 2019). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 165, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3440442 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3440442

Seife Dendir

Radford University - Department of Economics ( email )

United States

Alexei G. Orlov (Contact Author)

Securities and Exchange Commission ( email )

100 F Street NE
Washington, DC 20549
United States

John Roufagalas

Troy University - Montgomery ( email )

Troy, AL
United States

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