Search This Blog


Economists: left vs right

What are some ideological blind spots shared by many on the left? What are they on the right? David Leonhardt gives us his list and then discusses whether left- and right-leaning economists are any less susceptible to them. Here is part of his conclusion:
"I think that liberal economists, by nature, tend to be less economically liberal than your average liberal. That’s not true — or at least it’s not nearly as true — about conservative economists and conservatives generally. As a result, some of the left’s biggest blind spots on economics arise much less often among left-leaning economists... The difference, I think, is that conservative economists’ blind spots overlap more with general conservative blind spots than is the case for liberal economists and liberal blind spots. That’s not a value judgment so much as an observation."
Allow me to assume for a minute that the "truth" is somewhere in the middle, I would venture two possible explanations: one is that there are some mistaken beliefs on the left that many left-leaning economists avoid, two is that there are some mistaken beliefs on the right that right-leaning economists often fail to avoid.

A liberal might say that this is because economics is just a conservative social science that goes too far to try and find common ground with the other side. Likewise someone further right might say that this proves their ideas are true since everyone is coming towards them (I'm not intentionally constructing two straw men, bear with me).

My response to the former would be that frequently (but not always) liberal economists share these quixotic goals, but believe that the ability to achieve them takes time, or isn't possible given our limited resources; additionally the means are often counterintuitive, accompanied by unintended consequences.

My response to the latter would be that conservative economists fail to avoid the pitfalls that other conservatives hold true. I am not sure why this would be. Perhaps at play is a visceral intuition that cannot be dislodged by the tools of economics.

This is a very interesting question. I need to think more about this. In the meantime, here are some more links on this issue. Left-wing misbeliefs, a response to this criticism (by a non-economist), right-wing misbeliefs.

No comments:

Post a Comment