Political Language in Economics
67 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2014 Last revised: 31 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 17, 2018
Do empirical estimates in economics reflect the political orientation of economists? We show that policy-relevant parameters are correlated with economist partisanship as predicted from the text of published academic papers. Specifically, we predict observed political behavior of a subset of economists using the phrases from their academic articles, obtain good out-of-sample fit, and then predict partisanship for all economists. We show considerable sorting of economists into fields of research by predicted partisanship, and yet can detect differences in partisanship among economists even within a field, 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%.
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