Public Understanding of Economics and Economic Statistics

Project Icon Project Status
Completed

Summary & aims

This study explores the public understanding of economics and economics statistics, through mixed-methods research with the UK public, including 12 focus groups with 130 participants and a nationally representative survey with 1,665 respondents. It shows that people generally understand economic issues through the lens of their familiar personal economy rather than the abstract national economy.

Methodology

The research shows that large parts of the UK public have misperceptions about how economic figures, such as the unemployment and inflation rate, are collected and measured, and who they are produced and published by. This sometimes affected participants’ subsequent views of the perceived accuracy and reliability of economic statistics. Broadly, the focus groups suggested that people are often sceptical and cynical about any data they see, and that official economic data are subject to the same public scrutiny as any other data. In line with other research, the survey found consistent and substantial differences in economic knowledge and interest across different groups of the UK population.

The study was carried out as part of the research programme of the Economic Statistic Centre of Excellence (ESCoE) and funded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Output

The ESCoE report can be found here. The ESCoE blog can be found here. There is an overview of the media coverage here, including coverage from BBC Online, BBC Radio 4, Financial Times, Daily Mail and The Times. The author also wrote a feature in the Royal Economic Society newsletter here.

Co-Investigator

Johnny Runge
Senior Social Researcher
Private: Hudson-Sharp, N
Senior Social Researcher

Researchers

Johnny Runge
Senior Social Researcher
Private: Hudson-Sharp, N
Senior Social Researcher