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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5961/the-dismal-state-of-the-consensus-among-economists/

The Dismal State of the Consensus Among Economists

November 30, 2006 by

Greg Mankiw reports on Robert Whaples study of AEA members agreement or lack thereof on a wide range of policy issues. The economists questioned start off strong, but then quickly begin to advocate government interference in the market in a variety of ways:

* 87.5 percent agree that “the U.S. should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade.”

* 85.2 percent agree that “the U.S. should eliminate agricultural subsidies.”

* 85.3 percent agree that “the gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged.”

* 77.2 percent agree that “the best way to deal with Social Security’s long-term funding gap is to increase the normal retirement age.”

* 67.1 percent agree that “parents should be given educational vouchers which can be used at government-run or privately-run schools.”

* 65.0 percent agree that “the U.S. should increase energy taxes.”

* 90.1 percent disagree with the position that “the U.S. should restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries.”

Interestingly, one issue that fails to generate consensus is the minimum wage: 37.7 percent want it increased, while 46.8 percent want it eliminated.

Other interesting results from the Whaples Supplemental Table.pdf:

* Only 42.9 percent believe the legal monopoly held by the U.S Postal Service on the delivery of first class mail should be ended.

* Only 34.9 percent agree that the U.S. should eliminate inheritance/estate taxes.

* 62.2 percent believe that the U.S. should legalize marijuana.

* 45.8 percent agree that the U.S. should adopt universal health insurance.

One important question is who are the economists in the 12.5 percent who would not eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade?

Or, the 14.8 percent who want to maintain agricultural subsidies?

Or, the 57.1 percent that want to maintain the government monopoly on mail service?

I guess, understanding economics is hard even for economists.

{ 3 comments }

Dennis Sperduto November 30, 2006 at 7:56 pm

Or what about the 45.8% of economists who agree that the U.S. should adopt universal health insurance?

But then again, maybe adoption of universal health insurance would create more employment for professional economists who would be needed as administrators and consultants.

adi December 1, 2006 at 12:29 am

This Whaples supplemental table at least proves that those who made it don’t understand mathematics: there is average calculated from ordinal relations. Preferences are ordinal, you can’t calculate average in any meaningful sense.

If that would be possible then you can as well ask: “Do you prefer 50 utils more that US should abolish all tariffs than let them be as they are now?”

Bill December 3, 2006 at 4:48 pm

Consensus is overrated at best anyway. Keep in mind that Mises, Rothbard, Bastiat, Locke, Jefferson and the like were never big on consensus.

I know it is amazing that someone who studies economics would be in favor of a minimum wage or a tax of some kind especially a tariff.

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