Political Language in Economics

104 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2014 Last revised: 4 Jan 2023

See all articles by Zubin Jelveh

Zubin Jelveh

New York University

Bruce Kogut

Columbia University - Sociology/Columbia Business School

Suresh Naidu

Columbia University

Date Written: December 13, 2022

Abstract

Does academic writing in economics reflect the political orientation of economists? We use
machine learning to measure partisanship in published academic economics articles. We predict
observed political behavior of a subset of economists using the phrases from their academic articles, show good out-of-sample predictive accuracy, and then predict partisanship for all economists. We then use these predictions to examine patterns of political language in economics. We estimate journal-specific effects on predicted ideology, controlling for author and year fixed effects, that accord with existing survey-based measures. We show considerable sorting of economists into fields of research by predicted partisanship. We also show that partisanship is detectable even within fields, even across those estimating the same theoretical parameter. Using policy-relevant parameters collected from previous meta-analyses, we then show that imputed partisanship is correlated with estimated parameters, such that the implied policy prescription is consistent with partisan leaning. For example, we find that going from the most left-wing authored estimate of the taxable top income elasticity to the most right-wing authored estimate decreases the optimal tax rate from 84% to 58%.

Suggested Citation

Jelveh, Zubin and Kogut, Bruce and Naidu, Suresh, Political Language in Economics (December 13, 2022). Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 14-57, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535453 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2535453

Zubin Jelveh

New York University ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
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New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Bruce Kogut (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Sociology/Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY MA 10027
United States

Suresh Naidu

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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