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Wolfers on Economists' Ideological Divide

Henderson on the Libertarian "... Marshmallow Bleg...
Justin Wolfers has skeptical comments on Gordon and Dahl's new paper on economists' ideology, featuring this cool graph:

Since I remained a little unclear about the origin of the graph, I emailed Wolfers.  He graciously responded, and gave me permission to share.  Enjoy.

The details were:

1. I looked at each name, and rated them from 0 to 10, using my completely subjective judgment.  Typically it was based on op-eds each had written, which administrations they had worked for, conversations I have had with them, general impressions based on their research, and in one case, whether their facebook page involved a Tie Dye shirt (seriously).  It's purely subjective.  (When I knew very little, I was systematically more likely to guess at a number towards the center.)

2. I had someone else (whose name I can't reveal) do the same.  Our guesses were correlated at about 0.7, which isn't bad.

3. I averaged 'em, then converted to z-scores.

Unfortunately I promised my fellow rater that I would never reveal his scores, otherwise I would send them to you.

My guess is that there is tons of measurement error in my measure.

Also, the underlying construct "ideology" is not well defined (although perhaps there's an "I know it when I see it" sense when talking about folks between Mankiw and Krugman).  But someone like you would be very difficult to place in such a spectrum, even though there's lots of public info about your views.



I replied:

I'm confused.  Didn't the NBER URL graph your scores against his?

Justin's clarification:

The graph shows my ratings and those of the other rater, but not the identity of who we were rating. 

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (4 to date)
Jack writes:

Why is Greg Mankiw at one of the extremes? He's really not that far right of an economist. He's even somewhat keynesian, in fact.

Trespassers W writes:

@Jack: I was just thinking the same thing. Isn't Don Boudreaux more the opposite of Paul Krugman?

JLV writes:

Krugman's not the most far left famous economist Stiglitz is to his left a little, and the post-Keynesian guys - Keen, etc are probably a closer counterpoint to Boudreaux.

I think having Mankiw and Krugman on the poles is a function of fame, rather than literally demarcating ends of the ideological spectrum. Krugman and Mankiw get orders of magnitude more traffic than Cafe Hayek, I would wager. PLUS, most people are between the two in ideology, so you don't lose much by cutting off the far left and right.

JLV writes:

Also: if we're worried about partisanship and not ideology, Mankiw and Krugman are the exact choices you want. What's the ratio of nice things to critical things that Mankiw has posted posted since 2008? and what's the same ratio for Bush by Krugman before 2008? Pretty close, I'd say, and probably close to 0. Hence putting them at the poles makes sense (e.g. the chart should be read as most supportive of Democrats to Most supportive of Republicans, not literally far left to far right).

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