The Corner

Poll: Economists Unanimously Think Uber Is a Good Thing for Consumers

The University of Chicago’s Initiative on Global Markets runs an interesting project where they ask a panel of highly regarded expert economists — who are somewhat dispersed across the political spectrum of economics, such as it exists — to answer whether they agree or disagree with various economic questions.

On some questions — famous ones, measured long before the IGM initiative, include the supply effects of rent control and the benefits from free trade — economists are almost unanimous.

On the question of whether deregulating taxi markets by letting mobile-based car services like Uber and Lyft set their own prices benefits consumers, they literally were unanimous:

The economists can offer specific comments in addition to their level of agreement, and Austan Goolsbee, a Chicago professor and a former top Obama economic adviser (and frequent Sean Hannity guest!), had a colorful comment: “Yes. yes. a thousand times yes. Instead, try calling for a cab on Saturday night from the south side of Chicago and see what happens.”

Economics blogger Adam Ozimek looked in 2012 at what other controversial questions have almost unanimous consensus from the Chicago panel, and found a few surprising ones. The only controversial question he found in which no member of the panel agreed with the idea and, as with the Uber question, not one was even uncertain? The argument that restoring the gold standard would improve price-stability and employment outcomes for the average American. (I did find other questions on which they’ve gotten unanimous agreement with no “uncertain”s but they’re not generally real policy questions.)

No members of the panel, meanwhile, disagreed (a few were uncertain) with these other questions:

carbon taxes are less costly than carbon regulations

That’s not an exhaustive list of the near-unanimous propositions the IGM panel has examined, just ones that might be of interest.  The full list of questions that have been asked of the panel is here.

Patrick Brennan was a senior communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration and is former opinion editor of National Review Online.


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