Arnold Kling  

Where Economists Agree

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According to Robert Whaples,


the overwhelming majority (87.5%) agree that the U.S. should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade. Even more (90.1%) disagree with the suggestion that the U.S. should restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. Apparently, many economists consider U.S. anti-dumping laws to be protectionist, as 61.3% agree that they should be removed, while 25.1% disagree.

Two-thirds of economists support education vouchers. My guess is that, depending on how you phrase the question, you might find that two-thirds of the general public supports vouchers. The opposition to vouchers is powerful not because of how widespread it is, but because of how concentrated it is (particularly the teachers' unions).

Three-quarters of economists agree with me that raising the retirement age is the best option on Social Security. But Whaples cautions that this is not a belief that they hold with intensity.

Greg Mankiw will be happy to know that 65 percent of economists are members of the Pigou Club--they want to raise taxes on energy.

Is Bryan right? Would I be happy to be ruled by an elite of the American Economic Association? These survey results lend him some support.


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COMMENTS (10 to date)
SP writes:

Still, 25% disagree. That's a lot of economists.

Matt Peppe writes:

If economists were actually given power, there's a good chance they would cease to agree so much as they become much less impartial because of people becoming economists with the intent of being politicians.

Alex writes:

Would probably be an improvement, but remember: Galbraith was also an AEA member.

Brad Hutchings writes:

There is an important purpose served in requiring experts to get enough popular support for their grand schemes before they are implemented. Really, I may agree with 95% of the big ideas to come from a majority of the AEA, but until you guys can compete with Lou Dobbs for the minds of Americans, there's no point in having you lead. You'll just have good ideas picked apart by someone louder and more convincing.

Where are the celebrities or politicians extolling the virtues of free trade or of WalMart? Every loudmouth with an axe to grind (Lou Dobbs, Al Franken, James Webb) has some academic researcher backing him up. Why can't a majority of the AEA find loudmouths to popularize the good ideas?

Barkley Rosser writes:

And the 75% who think the retirement age should be raised, well, maybe it should be, but it is not needed unless the economy severely slows down permanently and immigration crashes.

Lord writes:

How many think currency pegs and monetary controls are barriers to trade? Ok, an inducement to unfree trade?

Dezakin writes:

Would probably be an improvement, but remember: Galbraith was also an AEA member.

You really think he'd be worse than the guys in charge now?

nitpicker writes:

regarding the Best Way to fix Social Security.

Only those who Agree or Strongly Agree to question 10 are invited to answer the following 4 Best Way questions.
So of the original 81 respondents 70 answer the next 4 Best Way questions: Agree/Strongly Agree
11: mandatory personal accts: 20/15.7
12: increase payroll taxes: 18.6/1.4
13: increase retirement age: 62.9/14.3
14: decrease benefits: 45.7/11.4

So... 42.8% express a Strongly Agree to 1 (or more) of the BEST WAY questions (should we assume that no one Strongly Agrees to 2 BEST ways?).

Very agreeable people

David Locke writes:

So everyone here would be perfectly fine with cutting social welfare, but what if we really wanted to solve the social security problem by cutting investment in our health care infrastructure? That's a welfare system. And, it does more evil by forcing us to live longer lives than it helps. Ah, but some economist just figured out that longer lives actually has economic value. If it has that much value, then social security is free.

But, death is clearly preferable to living in a world run by economists.

brokow writes:

I am curious about Whaples' survey results on minimm wage law. To wit:

Table 3
Minimum Wage
The federal minimum wage in the U.S. should be:
a. eliminated. 46.8%
b. decreased. 1.3
c. kept at the current level. 14.3
d. increased by about 50 cents per hour. 5.2
e. increased by about $1 per hour. 15.6
f. increased by more than $1 per hour. 16.9

While it's no surprise that almost half think the minimum wage ought to be eliminated, I find it odd that over 35% prefer an increase. Clearly, the latter is the populist view, but I wonder how these professional economists who hold that view are explaining it to their Econ 101 classes?

BTW, I didn't see a link to the actual details paper. Can someone post it?

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