Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Divergent Views on Economic Policy

The Economist has an article on the difference in opinions on economic matters between academically trained economists and the American public in general.

What is interesting to me is that in areas where there is plenty of economic research - academic economists tend to agree with each other (predicting stop prices is hard, the gold standard is bad policy, US stimulus lowered the unemployment rate, gas prices are market driven and carbon taxes are less costly than car mileage standards).  This is good news - good research yields highly consistent economic agreement among academic economists.  On economic policy topics where economic research is scarce, economists are stereotypically disagreeable.

On the other hand, the American public is less inclined to agree with academic economists in areas where the economists agree, but the public and economist's are more similar on economic policy matters that are less researched.  Even when individual's are told the economists answer, people's opinion does not change much, which I doubt is as true in medicine.

The article concludes, "[t]o become more relevant, economists will have to do a better job of explaining why their findings apply to a very messy, very political world."  That is one of the goals of the Principles of Micro course.

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