Thursday, November 30, 2006

Many of us have only one arm 

A new study by Robert Whaples of Wake Forest University of the opinions of economists on policy questions show more agreement than disagreement on many issues. The study finds that economists are broadly agreed on the undesirability of tariffs, agricultural subsidies, restricting outsourcing, and subsidizing sports stadia. There's a lot less agreement on environmental issues. While there's general agreement that something needs to be done on Social Security, there isn't much agreement on what to do.

Comparing this to the Klein and Stern results, I see broad similarities. Market interventions appear to be something economists agree on, but they don't. Both studies find a lack of consensus on the minimum wage, which I simply find shocking. The latter paper splits its respondents into self-identified Republicans and Democrats, and while there are significant differences on all issues regarding economic intervention, even Republican economists don't seem to agree on policy questions regarding economic intervention. The one source of agreement in the Klein/Stern study is government ownership of enterprises -- neither Democrat nor Republican economists support it.

Arnold Kling's reaction is that the Whaples study provides evidence that a government run by the elite of the American Economic Association would be desirable. Having looked also at the Klein and Stern results -- and perhaps being more libertarian than Republican -- I disagree.