Divided We Stand? Professional Consensus and Political Conflict in Academic Economics

Journal of Economic Issues (forthcoming)

30 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2019 Last revised: 1 Jun 2021

See all articles by Karl M. Beyer

Karl M. Beyer

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Insitute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy

Stephan Puehringer

Johannes Kepler University of Linz - Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy (ICAE)

Date Written: May 14, 2021

Abstract

This paper contributes to the debate on the role of normative values and political preferences among (publicly visible) economists in the US. For this purpose, we conduct a social network analysis on the signatories of economist petitions, which we identify as one channel for economists to exert public influence. We base our analysis on a set of 68 public policy petitions from 2008-2017 in the United States with more than 5,700 signatories and check the robustness of our results with three sub-networks. Our contribution is twofold: On the one hand, we provide an extended empirical basis for the debate on consensus in economics and the role of political preferences and normative values in economics. On the other hand, this paper offers a viable tool to trace the normative charging of (prospective) economist petitions and economists based on the social structure of petition networks. The main empirical finding of our paper is that there is a very strong partisan divide among petition-signing economists in the United States, which mirrors the cleavage within the US political system. We also find that the bipartite partisan structure of the economist petition network increases with the political involvement of economist. This divide is particularly stark in the field of fiscal policy, while it is to a lesser extent also present in other fields of public policy. A greater tendency towards consensus, in turn, can be found with respect to monetary policy, carbon pricing, immigration or free trade or market-based decision tools in general.

Keywords: ocial network analysis; social studies of economics; normative values; public economists; economist petitions; United States.

JEL Classification: A11, A14, Z13

Suggested Citation

Beyer, Karl M. and Puehringer, Stephan, Divided We Stand? Professional Consensus and Political Conflict in Academic Economics (May 14, 2021). Journal of Economic Issues (forthcoming) , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3425768 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3425768

Karl M. Beyer

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Insitute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy ( email )

Aubrunnerweg 3a
Linz, 4040
Austria

Stephan Puehringer (Contact Author)

Johannes Kepler University of Linz - Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy (ICAE) ( email )

Aubrunnerweg 3a
A-4040 Linz
Austria

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