The State of Behavioral Economics in Undergraduate Microeconomics Teaching

The State of Behavioral Economics in Undergraduate Microeconomics Teaching: A Review of Textbooks is the title of the paper I’ll be presenting at the ESA 2007 World Meeting in Rome this week (parallel session 2- stream 8, 29 June 2007, from 14.30 to 14.40).

Here is a link to the first VERY PRELIMINARY draft of the paper and below is the abstract of the paper.

Please do not quote wihout permission of the author. All comments are vey welcome!


The purpose of this paper is to analyze to what degree the undergraduate teaching of microeconomics incorporates the key contributions of behavioral economics.

The analysis is based on the textbooks adopted for teaching undergraduate introductory courses in principles of economics and microeconomics during the academic year 2006-2007 in the 30 world’s top economics departments.

The textbooks are analyzed to see whether they present and discuss key concepts in behavioral economics, which following Mullainathan and Thaler (2001), are organized into three groups under the headings of bounded rationality, bounded selfishness, and bounded will-power.

The analysis suggests that behavioral economics is still relatively under represented in microeconomics introductory textbooks compared to its importance in research. Seven of the 14 textbooks examined so far, do not mention behavioral economics at all. Among the remaining seven textbooks, only three dedicate more than 1 % of total pages to behavioral economics related concepts: Mankiw (2006), Varian (2006), and Frank (2006) respectively with 1.08%, 2.1%, and 7.4% of total pages dedicated to behavioral economics.

In the textbooks most of the discussion of behavioral economics focuses on bounded rationality while bounded selfishness and bounded will-power are much less discussed.

The paper concludes with some reflections about the possible causes of the under representation of behavioral economics in microeconomics introductory textbooks and on the reasons why more space should be dedicated to it in teaching introductory microeconomics

Author Keywords: behavioral economics, economics education and teaching of economics, experimental economics, microeconomics, psychology, textbooks.

JEL classification codes: A22, B49, B59, D01


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