Coverage of Behavioral and Experimental Economics in Undergraduate Microeconomics Textbooks

Saturday November 17 I’ll be presenting the paper Coverage of Behavioral and Experimental Economics in Undergraduate Microeconomics Textbooks to the The Second Nordic Workshop in Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Göteborg.

The paper is a joint work with my colleague Minna Autio. Here you can download the workshop presentation .ppt (updated 17 November 2007), below is the abstract.

Abstract (Draft 14 November 2007)
Please do not quote without permission of the authors

This paper analyzes to what degree undergraduate microeconomics textbooks incorporate the key contributions from behavioral economics and experimental economics, two branches of economics that have received increasing academic recognition in the last years.

We find great variation in the coverage of both behavioral and experimental economics ranging from detailed presentations to total disregard.

Ten of the 25 textbooks examined make no reference at all to behavioral economics concepts and models; six dedicate less than 1% of total pages to behavioral economics, six between 1% and 2.6 %, and three between 6% and 11%. When behavioral economics is discussed, the focus tends to be on bounded rationality rather than on bounded self-interest or bounded willpower.

Experimental economics is not discussed at all in ten textbooks, twelve textbooks dedicate less than 0.6% of total pages to it, while three dedicate between 2% and 10% of total pages.

We suggest that variation in coverage could be explained by different views on which topics belong to the core of undergraduate microeconomics, on whether behavioral and experimental economics may be too challenging to students fairly new to economics, and on how restricted the scope of applicability of behavioral economics models is felt to be.

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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