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Economists are less self-interested than ordinary people

by xyonent
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There are a lot of stereotypes about economists. Two common stereotypes are: the first is that all economists think about and study is money. The second is that economists are more selfish than the average person.

Both stereotypes are false. My wife, who is not an economist but has been married to one for nearly 41 years, has a great answer to the first statement: When people find out I’m an economist and say, “Oh, he studies money,” she responds, “No, he studies human behavior.”

But I want to focus on the second claim, because I think it’s the exact opposite of the truth. My observation is that the average economist is less self-interested than the average person, and for good reason: studying economics forces you to think about consequences beyond the obvious. Furthermore, some people believe there is academic literature that shows that studying economics makes students self-interested, but in fact this is not the case.

These are the opening three paragraphs of my latest Hoover article:The economy is not selfish“, Define your ideaMay 30, 2024.

The second half of the article discusses an academic study that erupted a few years ago, in which one of the co-authors falsely claimed that economics students were more self-interested than other students.

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