Ryan Bourne reports from the AEA meetings

During the first full morning of the conference (Friday), I decided to note down some rough compliance figures . With the health warning that this only reflects the experience of sessions I attended, compliance initially was about 90 percent for those I judge to be in their 40s and younger and only about 30 percent among over 50s.

Now, I am less interested in the debate about the efficacy of mask wearing or indeed whether individuals choose freely to wear one based on their subjective judgements of the risks, costs, and benefits. What was interesting to me is that at an AEA *population*-level, compliance rates with the rule appeared negatively correlated with the age-related risks of COVID-19 itself. At this stage when those risks are well known, that strongly suggests a lot of signaling going on, whether that be potential job market applicants looking to signal their compliant personalities, masks as a political statement, or something else. What it does not show is some well-grounded understanding of “the science.” It was little surprise that, as the weekend wore on, and given their experience in the rest of the city, all groups’ adherence to the rule waned.

And this:

To summarize: there were roughly three times as many sessions featuring papers on each of race, gender, and climate as there were sessions on the topics of inflation or growth. For the conference as a whole, that means 13.2 percent of all sessions featured gender issues, 12.6 percent climate, 12.4 percent race, against just 4.4 percent for inflation and growth (some sessions featured more than one of these listed topics).

Here is more, and note I have seen reports on Twitter that the AEA lost almost a million dollars on this conference.  When will there be an inquiry into how this decision — the very strict Covid-related requirements — was made?  Probably never.


Comments for this post are closed