WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers try to convince their constituents that they have the best answers for jumpstarting the economy and lowering the deficit, but the majority them aren't actually economics experts -- at least not academically.
Eight out of 10 members of Congress lack an academic background in economics or business, according to a new project called "Defeat the Debt" out of Employment Policies Institute, a fiscally conservative think tank.
Only 8.4 percent of federal lawmakers have a degree in economics, and 13.7 percent have a degree in business or accounting. Over half of the members of Congress (55.7 percent) hold a degree in a government-related or humanities field.
EPI's breakdown of their study:
“Members of Congress are expected to provide answers for our country’s spending and economic crises," Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at EPI, said in a press release. "But it appears many of them might have difficulty answering Econ 101 questions.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Saltsman acknowledged that not majoring in economics or business does not mean lawmakers are incapable of solving economic difficulties.
"There have been a lot of great representatives over the years who haven't had this background, and I think it's possible to do your job without it and do it well without it," he said. "However, I think that right now, the nature of the policy problems we're confronting now suggest having a familiarity with economics is really a net plus."
Saltsman added that an understanding of basic economics allows Congress to understand what is at stake in policy debates.
"Your first couple weeks of economics class you learn a lot of scarcity and trade offs. You have people with unlimited wants and desires and a limited number of resources to satisfy that," he said. "These are the sorts of trade offs that Congress is going to have to make when talking about the debt and talking about the economy."
The study excluded 24 members of Congress without a specific degree, as well the non-voting delegates from Guam, Virgin Islands, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.
The focus was on undergraduate degrees, but lawmakers with an advanced degree relevant to economics or business, such as a Master in Business Administration, were classified according to the advanced degree.