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January 18, 2013

Booth panel closes divides

A recent paper by Roger Gordon and Gordon Dahl, two economists at the University of California, San Diego, and based on survey results from the Booth School of Business’s Economic Experts Panel, suggests that there is a significant consensus on many policy issues among members of the field.

Part of Booth’s Initiative on Global Markets (IGM), the Economic Experts Panel is a group of the nation’s leading economists from seven universities’ prestigious economics departments, chosen for their public policy expertise and geographic and political diversity, according to the IGM Web site.

A weekly survey is administered to the panel in which the economists have the option to agree, disagree, or declare uncertainty about each issue in the survey, and must rank how confident they are in their response on a scale from one to 10.

The overall results show that economists generally agree on a great number of issues. In 32 out of the 80 surveys, the economists were unanimous in their responses. Topics with a great deal of research behind them were the least controversial among economists, while larger disagreements emerged when there was a shortage of economic literature on a given topic.

Moreover, the results showed that where economists received their doctorate and where they are currently employed do not seem to correlate with their economic views. But findings did show that respondents who received degrees from the University of Chicago were far more certain in their answers than those from other institutions.

The UChicago economics program, collectively known as the Chicago School of Economics, is often referred to as part of the “freshwater school of economics” for its more right-leaning stances on economic policies, as opposed to the left-leaning “saltwater” schools such as MIT and Harvard.

The panel, which is directed by Booth professors Anil Kashyap and Brian Barry, has been running since September 2011.

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