Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Economists are weird II 

Just as a matter of casual empiricism, I've l0ng believed that academic economists are more liberal generally than non-academic economists. The academic environment would be better suited for them, as this blog has tirelessly pointed out. So when loyal reader Duane Oyen wrote me about a poll by The Economist (in .pdf -- it might be for subscribers only, as I know this article is) that said, in his words, "70% of respondents consensus was that we should 'soak the rich' like Kerry wishes to do", I was pretty sure they had not asked, say, the policy panelists of the NABE, of which I'm one. (The NABE doesn't have too many academics, but some of us.) Sure enough:

The Economist polled 100 academic economists on the Bush record and the economic plans of Mr Bush and Mr Kerry; 56 responded.
While there isn't anything bad about a 56% response rate, there is probably some bias introduced by that as well. I note their last two questions asked.
10. If you had a chance to work in a policy job in Washington, would you take it?
YES -- 21, NO -- 33
11. For whom would you rather work?
MR. BUSH -- 3 MR. KERRY -- 17
This should have been a screaming red flag of a biased sample, and the Economist even says so, but doesn't give a fig.
Are our economists partisans? We chose their names, at random, from among the referees of the American Economic Review, one of the profession's more prestigious publications. Conservatives often moan that university professors are all left-wingers. Though most of our professors claim they are not interested in working in Washington, 80% of those who would accept a policy job would prefer to work for Mr Kerry. However, even if you allow for some partisanship, the results are fairly striking.
So when Duane asked...
Where do they get these unbalanced samples of unreconstructed Keynesians to answer the questions by urging that the government soak up all investment risk capital? Don't they ever survey economists who have tried to operate a business or invested in a start-up?

...the answer is "the editorial board of the AER," since they choose the referees. And where oh where do these people come from? Behold.
Bernanke, most people will recognize, is a Governor of the Federal Reserve. All except Rogerson are at elite institutions, and more likely than not to be liberal.