recent gre scores for economists vs. other social scientists


On Twitter, Michigan higher ed prof Julie Posselt compares the quantitative GRE scores for various social science disciplines. Take home message: social sciences are comparable in terms of recruits, but economics has stronger math skills. Take home point #2: there is still a lot of overlap. The bottom third of econ overlaps with other social sciences. This probably reflects that the extraordinarily mathematical approach to econ is a phenomenon of the strong programs that attract those with degrees in physical science and they have pushed the more traditional economics student to the bottom of the distribution.

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Written by fabiorojas

February 16, 2016 at 12:00 am

5 Responses

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  1. What do their verbal GREs look like? Econ selects for high quant GREs so that isn’t a surprise.



    February 16, 2016 at 3:00 am

  2. Remember this from Mankiw’s blog:

    “In general, economists are smarter (we may be better looking too). It’s fashionable not to say such things, but I will bet that if you look at the GRE and SAT scores of incoming PhD students at BU, Harvard and MIT, the average economist will sit at a higher percentile than the average (non-economist) social-scientist. Given that all the other disciplines are trying to recruit students with higher scores, I’m not willing to believe the explanation that these disciplines value other attributes that aren’t measured in the GRE. Higher salaries in economics will tend to reinforce the “economists are smarter” phenomena. ”

    and this

    Economics ranked 4. Sociology ranked 23 for total GRE score (old scale.)

    Anyway, I don’t like their arrogance.



    February 16, 2016 at 4:58 am

  3. What does it mean when the GRE scores (all three categories using the old scales) from Philosophy dominate the social sciences, save economics? Of course, their overall GRE scores surpass the natural sciences, as well…



    February 16, 2016 at 2:19 pm

  4. I’d guess that there are some compositional issues in play too. For instance, political science programs are very quant-oriented at the top schools, but that declines markedly once you leave the top 20 departments or the United States. But since the top departments feed the rest of the discipline’s faculty, the non-quant departments don’t have much purchase in the discipline, even if they’d figure heavily into the statistics presented here. Econ, on the other hand, is quantitative from top to bottom.

    I still think economists are generally smarter than other social scientists at all levels, but probably not as smart as they think they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    Brad Spahn

    February 17, 2016 at 9:53 am

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