Interesting Analysis of Petitions on Economic Policy

Here is a paper in Econ Journal Watch that’s quite interesting.

Petitions favoring A or opposing B are rather common. The idea is to get a lot of economists to sign, thus giving an intellectual boost to a certain position. In the paper, the authors characterized a large number of petitions aimed at economists, classifying the petitions as “liberal” (in the original sense, as enhancing liberty), interventionist (that is, calling for increased government action, thus reducing liberty), or neither. Examples of the former include petitions opposing federal regulation of the Internet and in favor of liberalized immigration policies; examples of the latter include petitions advocating an increase in the minimum wage and government incentives to produce biofuels.

One interesting finding is that liberty-enhancing petitions outnumber interventionist ones by about two to one. Another finding is that men are more inclined to sign the former and women the latter.

It’s very depressing to see that there are lots of economists who say that raising the minimum wage is a good idea. How many doctors would sign a petition calling for the use of bleeding to treat illnesses?

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. He holds a B.A. from Carroll College (Waukesha, Wis.) and a J.D. from ...

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