What's it like to be dismal?

From my years as a bachelor student in economics, I remember two interesting questionaire results (ok, probably more than two, but that is a bit besides the point right now): first, the two best predictors of academic success in the first year of a Dutch economics student at Maastricht University (where I studied) were highschool exam grades in math and Dutch, respectively. So much for highschool economics education? I'm afraid so…

A recent paper in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization by Yoram Bauman and Elaina Rose reminded me of the second result: more than anything (and more than other students), my fellow economics students cared about … making money. The paper studies what, in a recent NY times oped, the authors call the Grinch stereotype. 

There is good news as well (for me at least, since nowadays I teach economics): the author find that the attitude towards altruism of economics students is mostly a selection effect. In their own words, "taking economics classes did not have a significant negative effect on later giving by economics majors." 

Check out the original article here. And the NY Times piece here.

© J.W.B. Bos 2014