Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #483

Economic Beliefs and Party Preference

by Michael W.M. Roos and Andreas Orland

University of Duisburg-Essen, 05/2014, 24 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-549-2 DOI: 10.4419/86788549



This paper reports the results of a questionnaire study used to explore the economic understanding, normative positions along the egalitarian-libertarian spectrum, and the party preferences of a large student sample. The aim of the study is both to find socio-economic determinants of normative and positive beliefs and to explore how beliefs about the economy influence party support. We find that positive beliefs of lay people differ systematically from those of economic experts. Positive beliefs can be explained by high school grades, field of study, reasons for the choice of subject, personality traits, and – in part – by gender. Normative beliefs are self-serving in the sense that students whose father have high-status jobs and who seek high incomes are more libertarian than others. Party preferences are explained by the professional status of the father, religion, gender, and economic beliefs. Normative beliefs are more important for party support than positive beliefs. While there is a clear positive relation between libertarianism and support for right-leaning parties, positive beliefs only matter for some parties. A parochialism bias in positive beliefs seems to reinforce libertarian views favoring the most conservative party.

JEL-Classification: D83, D72, Z13

Keywords: Economic beliefs; party preference; sociotropic voting; pocketbook voting; survey; personality traits