Public Understanding of Economics


Public Understanding of Economics


Public understanding of economics is essential for democracy, shaping people’s ability to assess economic performance and hold decisionmakers accountable. The 2016 Independent Review of Economic Statistics highlighted that beyond informing effective policy making, economic statistics are a public good which is key to the electorate’s ability to perform their function in the democratic process. Given the limited understanding of how the public perceive economic concepts and statistics, this project conducts innovative qualitative research to explore how people think about the economy in general, different economic concepts and economic statistics.


People’s understanding of key economic concepts may influence how they view and process economic evidence communicated to them. Using online surveys and focus group discussions we assessed the public’s understanding of statistical evidence on economic issues and their use of this evidence in making decisions.

The project produced new quantitative and qualitative data which enhances current research of how the public understands and thinks about economic evidence, how that information affects personal judgements and how people make decisions based on those judgements. The research also set out to understand how people change their views and evaluate economic indicators if they are informed about the economic concepts beforehand. Most importantly, the research output identifies the ways in which the presentation and use of economic evidence might be improved to better communicate economic evidence to the public.


Runge, J. (2021) ‘Public Understanding of Economics and Economic Statistics: How People Think About Economic Concepts and Measurement’ ESCoE Conference on Economic Measurement 2021 Poster Exhibition, 11-13 May 2021. Poster Presentation.

Chris Giles ‘Britons understand little about economics, report finds‘ Financial Times, 25 Nov 2020



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