Think Tanks

Posted: 14 Nov 2010 Last revised: 22 Oct 2013

See all articles by Peter T. Leeson

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Matt E. Ryan

Duquesne University - Department of Economics and Quantitative Sciences

Claudia R. Williamson

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Date Written: November 12, 2010

Abstract

This paper is the first to investigate the relationship between think tanks and economic policy empirically. We use panel data for the US states to examine state-based, free market (SBFM) think tanks’ relationship to eight key economic policy objectives. We find little evidence that SBFM think tanks are associated with more “pro-market” policies along the policy dimensions they aim to influence. However, we find stronger evidence that SBFM think tanks are associated with more “pro-market” citizen attitudes about the role of government vs. markets in economic policy. These results suggest that if think tanks’ connection to economic policy is important at all, its importance may be long term and operate via the channel of “ideas.” In contrast to think tanks, we find evidence that political lobby groups are associated with current policy. This may reflect the fact that, unlike think tanks, lobby groups are legally permitted to lobby for policy changes directly. Thus they don’t need to engage in a long-run “battle of ideas” to secure desired policy outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Leeson, Peter T. and Ryan, Matt E. and Williamson, Claudia R., Think Tanks (November 12, 2010). Journal of Comparative Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1708178

Peter T. Leeson (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.peterleeson.com

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://ppe.mercatus.org/scholars/peter-leeson

Matt E. Ryan

Duquesne University - Department of Economics and Quantitative Sciences ( email )

802 Rockwell Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

Claudia R. Williamson

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ( email )

United States
7242558627 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://claudiawilliamson.com

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