Monday, 16 May 2011

Right-wing economists?

The results of a a new survey of U.S. economists have been released in a new paper in the journal "Econ Journal Watch". The paper is 'Economics Professors’ Favorite Economic Thinkers, Journals, and Blogs (along with Party and Policy Views)' by William L. Davis, Bob Figgins, David Hedengren, and Daniel B. Klein, "Econ Journal Watch", Volume 8, Number 2 May 2011, 126-146.

The authors generated a random list of 2000 individual professors (tenure-track, assistant to full professors, excluding emeriti) belonging to 300 U.S. economics departments, in proportion to the size of the department. The response rate was 15.2 percent with 299 surveys being returned. The mean age of our 299 respondents is about 59, and the median 58, so the group is older than one might expect. Of the 299 respondents, 239 were men, 57 women, and 3 did not report gender.

One question asked in the survey related to political views:

To which political party have the candidates you’ve voted for in the past ten years mostly belonged? The answers:
The possible responses being: Democratic, Green, Libertarian, Republican and other.
Democratic 56.4%
Green 1.7%
Libertarian 5.4%
Republican 20.7%
“Other” checked but nothing written 3.8%
Cannot vote 3.7%
Choose not to vote 1.0%
No answer 7.4%
So the sum of Democratic and Green voters is nearly 60% of the survey. The sum of Republican and Libertarian voters is half that.

The authors also calculate a party-voting index: (#Democratic + #Green)/(#Republican + #Libertarian + 0.1). The “+ 0.1” appearing in the denominator is there to solve the problem that arises when it is otherwise zero. Crudely speaking, the index is the ratio of Left to Right. The Left to Right ratio within the entire sample is 2.23.

Which means economists, in the U.S. at least, are far from being a bunch of "right-wingers".

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