When Do You Get Economists as Policy-Makers?

33 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2012 Last revised: 1 Dec 2016

Mark Hallerberg

Hertie School of Governance

Joachim Wehner

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: August 11, 2016


We analyze when economists become top-level “economic policy-makers,” focusing on financial crises and the partisanship of a country’s leader. We present a new dataset of the educational and occupational background of 1200 leaders, finance ministers, and central bank governors from 40 developed democracies between 1973 and 2010. Left leaders appoint more highly trained economists and fewer finance ministers with private finance backgrounds. Financial crises increase the likelihood of a former central banker becoming finance minister while those with a finance background are less likely to be appointed. A leader’s exposure to economics training is also related to appointments. One mechanism for affecting policy is through the selection of certain types of policy-makers, with implications for partisan economic cycles.

Keywords: Economic policy, Leaders, Education, Occupation, Partisanship, Financial crises

Suggested Citation

Hallerberg, Mark and Wehner, Joachim, When Do You Get Economists as Policy-Makers? (August 11, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2191490 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2191490

Mark Hallerberg (Contact Author)

Hertie School of Governance ( email )

Friedrichstr. 180
Berlin, Berlin 10117

Joachim Wehner

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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