The consequences of political innumeracy

Eric D Lawrence, John Sides


The prevalence of political innumeracy – or ignorance of politically relevant numbers – is well-documented. However, little is known about its consequences. We report on three original survey experiments in which respondents were randomly assigned to see correct information about the racial composition of the US population, median income and educational attainment, and the unemployment and poverty rates. Although estimates of these quantities were frequently far from the truth, providing correct information had little effect on attitudes toward relevant public policies.

  • Public opinion
  • innumeracy
  • political information

Article Notes

  • Conflict of interest The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Supplementary Material The online appendix is available at:

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