The Consensus of the Econoscenti

by F.

Ropert Whaples’ paper is getting summarized a lot, for good reason. Among economists,

  • 90.1 percent disagree with the position that “the U.S. should restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries.”
  • 87.5 percent agree that “the U.S. should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade.”
  • 85.2 percent agree that “the U.S. should eliminate agricultural subsidies.”
  • 85.3 percent agree that “the gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged.”
  • 77.2 percent agree that “the best way to deal with Social Security’s long-term funding gap is to increase the normal retirement age.”
  • 67.1 percent agree that “parents should be given educational vouchers which can be used at government-run or privately-run schools.”
  • 65.0 percent agree that “the U.S. should increase energy taxes.”

This summary comes from Greg Mankiw and conflates “agree” and “strongly agree” from the responses Whaples collected, but that seems reasonable given that the latter implies the former.

The question is, Can 87.5 percent of economists be wrong? Sure. But who is more likely to be right: that 87.5 percent, or Lou Dobbs? I’ll put my money on the 87.5 percent.