Thursday, April 01, 2004

On the One Hand

Economists are notorious for disagreeing, so notorious in fact, they have been the object of famous quips...just a few from JokEc:

If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three opinions.
- Winston Churchill

If all economists were laid end to end they would not reach a conclusion.
- George Bernard Shaw

But the truth is we agree on a lot of things. In fact a recent study by Dan Fuller and Doris Geide-Stevenson found at least a modest consensus on all but 3 of 44 items. Here is a sample that is relevant to the current discussions in the press.

Interestingly, the conclusions of strong consensus were comparatively concentrated
in the area of international economics: the responses to five of the eight
propositions dealing with the implications of a global economy exhibited strong
consensus (numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 26). Specifically, there was strong agreement with
the propositions that restraints on free trade reduce welfare (2) and that market determined,
flexible exchange rates are effective (1). There was also strong disagreement
with the propositions that increasing globalization threatens national
sovereignty in environmental and labor standards (4), that U.S. trade deficits are
a result of nontariff trade barriers (6), and that the increasing inequality in the
U.S. distribution of income is caused by the pressures of a global economy (26).

To read the full paper go to the Journal of Economic Education. (Link via Political Theory Daily Review)

Update: The new online journal Econ Journal Watch has a section dedicated to addressing different topics and discussing whether or not a consensus exists among economists. Do Economists Reach a Conclusion?

Keywords: ECO120, ECO301, ECO305, ECO712

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