Communicating economics to the public

This page collects some advice for economists on communicating their ideas to non-economist audiences. It will be updated with recent articles: to recommend an article, email Martin.

Communicating Economics is regularly updated with interviews and articles about how economists and their ideas can reach the widest audience.
Have you thought of using blogs to reach a wider audience? We have a guide to blogging for economists.
Fact-checking and combatting disinformation is the subject of a separate page.

October 2018
Simply is best: enhancing trust and understanding of central banks through better communications, blog post summarising research by Bank of England staff

We find that a new ‘Visual Summary’ of the Inflation Report, which makes use of graphics and simpler language, increases understanding of policy messages. [...] These changes also somewhat increase people’s trust in the information.

June 2018
Why economists must learn to communicate better, column by Ajit Ranade, Takshashila Institution

Metaphors and memes have much greater longevity than cold and boring economic logic. [...] [E]conomists must learn to match analysis with articulation. Else they will lose the metaphor war.

June 2018
Economists and Scientists on Twitter: A Tale of Two Styles? 1 min. video clip from the Royal Economic Society.
Marina Della Giusta explains how to communicate economics inclusively on Twitter without dumbing down.

June 2018
Economics and Journalism: Insights from EconPublic 2min. video clip from the Royal Economic Society.
Tiago Mata talks about the role of economic journalism in public debate.

November 2017
Interim report of the RSA Citizens' Economic Council by Reema Patel and Kayshani Gibbon

Rethinking the way we engage in dialogue about economics, and broadening the range of voices who are able to participate in that dialogue [...] allows us to harness citizen insight and values about the economic choices we face and to question the extent to which the economy is servicing wider social goals, mission and purpose rather than the other way around.

November 2017
"What's the Economy": Exploring how people feel about economics and why we need to improve it Report by the charity The Economy

[I]t doesn’t take much to shift someone’s perception of the subject of economics. [P]eople care passionately about where their tax money is going, about their rights to health and education, about their ability to find meaningful work. They want to take an active role in the debate over these issues, but find it impossible to do so when it’s conducted in a language that feels alien, abstract, and expert-dominated.

November 2017
"Everyday Economics" Andy Haldane

A lack of trust or understanding of finance and the economy can have wider societal costs. Economic mistrust and misunderstanding can spread contagiously across societies. [...] [T]his causes people to seek safety in ways which in fact increase risk, for them individually and for societies collectively. The flames of this epidemiological fire are increasingly being fanned by social media.

November 2017
"Economicky words are just plain icky" Tim Harford

[W]e might do well by trying to engage people’s sense of curiosity. It is not enough to write with clarity; the great science communicators [...] inspire a sense of wonder. If we use a surprising fact as an ambush, that will provoke a defensive response; far better to present an intriguing puzzle.

October 2017
"Taking the Society forward" by RES Chief Executive Leighton Chipperfield in the RES Newsletter

The reputation of economics, and economists, emerged as an issue that the Society should seek to address proactively. There was a real consensus that the Society should act as a catalyst for closer and better engagement with the public and the media.

June 2017
Why and How Should We Communicate Economics? by Bob Denham and Romesh Vaitilingam; guest post for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

We believe that economists – including the younger generation – can and should do more to communicate their analysis and evidence to a wider audience. [...] What’s more, the communication opportunities offered by the internet and social media make it easier than ever to reach readers who will value your insights.

May 2017
Economics: The Profession and the Public; event report by Alvin Birdi

Respondents expressed strongly that economics is important not just for a better understanding of personal finance but also to enable more informed choices during elections. Coupled with this sense of the subject’s importance was a desire to learn more and to embed economics within general school education.