Stupid Voters or Stupid Economists?

Observers of the recent Greek referendum, the vote on Scottish independence or the U.S. presidential campaign know that voters often vote based on their emotions rather than on rational thinking. I suggest that this is in large part because professional economists are failing to serve the public well. And as economists, if we want rational outcomes, then we need to redouble our efforts to build economic literacy.

America’s national cynic, H. L. Mencken once said, “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas…men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion.”

It’s easy to be cynical about democracy, but economists may have a different take on why voters largely vote with their emotions instead of their intellect.  It is not that voters can’t or don’t want to make sensible policy choices – rather, it is that they have little incentive to do so. Continue reading Stupid Voters or Stupid Economists?