Examples of Normative Statements in Economics - FreeEconHelp.com, Learning Economics... Solved!

Examples of Normative Statements in Economics

A normative statement is a statement that stresses an opinion or belief that cannot be readily tested. They generally suggest a mindset that certain things should happen in order for the world to be better. Easy examples includes statements such as "inequality is bad" or "genders should be paid the same salary". Both of these statements stress a belief that is not an observation of "what is" but rather "what should be".

Understanding how to recognize a normative statement is a very important skill to have when you are trying to pass your economics class. Generally, economists try to avoid making too many normative statements because they view them as closer to being in the realm of political science and are typically unable to be found to be true or false using traditional hypothesis testing. However, this doesn't mean that they are not useful in pursuing a better more livable society for everyone.

The rest of this post will go through several examples to help you identify trends in normative statements and how to differentiate them from positive statements as you go through your course.


1. The Dallas Cowboys are the best NFL football team to every play the game.

This is an example of a normative statement because it is not testable. Someone is expressing their belief or opinion. However, if we were to change the wording of the statement to:

2. The Dallas Cowboys have won more football playoff games than any other NFL football team.

This is a positive statement and not a normative statement because the statement itself is testable. we can look up the data on who won every playoff game through the NFL's history to see which team has in fact won the most playoff games.

3. French fries are not really French.

This is not a normative statement because it is not a belief or opinion but something we could test and verify or not. However, the following is an example of a normative statement.

4. French fries should be called freedom fries in America.

This is a little inside joke from America from a few years ago but is purely an opinion or personal belief and cannot be tested.

5. Social media is ruining the current generation.

Whether it is social media, cell phones, or lack of manners.... all of these are opinion or beliefs and are not testable. This means that they are again examples of normative statements. However, we could add in some sort of explicit information that makes the statement testable. Such as...

6. Those who use social media more than 20 hours per week are shown to have lower grades in school.

This statement is testable and is therefore not an example of a normative statement. It is a positive statement because it is a statement about "what is" whether or not it is true has no impact on whether it is normative or positive.

7. More women are in the workforce today than in the 1980's.

This is not a normative statement because it is testable, we can find data on the subject to see whether or  not it is true.

8. China should stop manipulating its currency.

This is a normative statement because it is a statement of what "ought to be" rather than what is. For one, we do not know if China is manipulating its currency and then we do not know if it would be a good idea or not for China to stop.
Is President Trump the ugliest President?

9. President Trump is the ugliest President in the history of the United States.

The above is a normative statement because ugly is subjective and this could not be easily tested.

So as you can see from the above list of examples of normative statements they all include opinions or beliefs and focus on stressing examples of what "ought to be" rather than fact based descriptions of what currently exists. Typically in economics classes you will be asked to determine whether or not a statement is normative or positive and the easiest way to tell is to figure out whether it is testable (positive) or a statement of opinion (normative).

To summarize, a normative statement is a statement of how someone thinks the world should be and typically includes words such as "such", "best", "worst", or something similar. Normative statements are generally subject to debate and could potentially have essays or discussions about their merit. If a statement could be easily proven true or false with adequate data then it is likely not a normative statement.


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