How free market are economists?

…a group of economists at George Mason University, and other
prominent researchers, say this notion of a free-market mainstream is
oversimplified at best and inaccurate at worst.

“There’s really not any data, and there’s a caricature, that
economists are extremely free market,” said Tyler Cowen, a professor of
economics at George Mason who is popular in free-market and libertarian
circles. “I think the differences are overdrawn.”

My colleague Daniel Klein, the central focus of this article, has shown that economists’ views are quite mainstream and often closely aligned with the Democratic Party:

And Klein has numbers to back up his claims. Some of those numbers come in the form of party donations, similar to studies (some of which have also been done by Klein at George Mason) purporting to show political bias among professors in academe: For example, one Econ Journal Watch study
found a 5.1 to 1 ratio between contributors to the Democratic versus
Republican party among a sample of 2,000 members of the AEA. Klein
found similar lopsidedness in the authors and editors of journals
(including the Journal of Economic Literature) and even within the groups of people listed in authors’ acknowledgments in journal articles.

Read the whole thing, which also includes a debunking of the notion of heterodox economics.  Often the real dissent in economics comes from the free market side; left-wing heterodoxy is more aligned with the mainstream than it cares to admit.  The piece closes with some me:

“So, everyone in a debate always wants to call the other side
ideologues, essentially, and the critics of economics are doing that
here,” Cowen explained. “They like to think they’re on the outside,
there’s something new, they’re warring against some powerful authority.”

About theories that run counter to the neoclassical model, he said, “It’s a view that’s been with us for centuries.”


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