Summary of The Myth of the Rational Voter

Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

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The Myth of the Rational Voter book summary
Democratic voters know little about economics. And it shows.

Rating

9 Overall

7 Applicability

9 Innovation

9 Style

Recommendation

Economists on the right and the left agree on a surprisingly large number of policy issues. They believe free trade is good, the U.S. budget deficit is not a problem and most human beings are better off now than in the past. Yet the democratic public doesn't agree. It fears trade and foreigners, thinks the budget deficit is a big problem and is pessimistic about the economy even during periods of record economic growth. But the worst part, says economics professor Bryan Caplan, is that the public votes. Drawing on empirical research about voter attitudes, Caplan describes how voters are mistaken about many policy issues and – more importantly – why they are wrong. His account is frighteningly plausible, but so is his solution: more economic education. getAbstract recommends this pithy volume to anyone concerned about voters' ostensibly self-defeating behavior. Democracy may be better than the alternatives, but no one said it was easy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How little the voting public knows about basic economics
  • Why this is a problem for democracy
  • What to do about it
 

Summary

The Enlightened Public
If the average American is any indication, voters are shockingly ignorant. For instance, each state in the United States has two senators. Europeans can be forgiven for not knowing this elementary fact about U.S. politics, but you would think most Americans would...
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About the Author

Bryan Caplan is Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University and co-editor of EconLog, an economics blog.


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