Taking an economics course in college may have swayed your political leanings, according to a new study by the Federal Reserve's Bank Of New York. In fact, that undergrad Macro class may still be shaping how you view the world.
The Fed's study (hat tip to the New York Times's Economix Blog) delved into how the content of a person's education influences their civic behavior, including party affiliation, political donations, and volunteerism.
Though the study's authors acknowledge that students choosing to study economics may already be right-leaning, they found that economics courses are correlated with GOP affiliation:
The number of economics courses completed by the graduates of these... schools significantly decreases the likelihood that a person does not join a political party and the likelihood of joining the Democratic party, while the number of economics courses is positively related to the likelihood of joining the Republican party. For example, taking five economics courses is associated with an eight percent decrease in the likelihood of joining the Democratic party and more than a 10 percent higher chance of joining the Republican party.
Interestingly, the report reveals that course choices (and not just the level of a person's education) affects civic behavior and opinions on social issues many years after graduation. For instance, the study found that business majors -- which are treated separate from economics majors -- are less likely than students with other majors to have voted in the 2000 presidential election or volunteer for a cause, political or otherwise.
Those taking economics classes, the study found, were less inclined to favor "regulation or government intervention affecting prices for specific goods and services, including wages and salaries."
The authors surveyed 2,000 graduates who attended one of four large public universities in Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, or Nebraska during the years 1976, 1986, or 1996. Here's more from the study:
"Those who completed more economics courses were more likely to agree that tariffs reduce economic welfare and less likely to think that trade deficits adversely affect the economy. The more economics courses taken the less likely respondents were to believe that government should regulate oil prices, and the more likely they were to believe that the minimum wage increases unemployment. Finally, the more economics courses taken the less likely respondents were to believe that government that the distribution of income should be more equal."
READ the study here: