Economists Views on Policy Issues

Volokh Conspiracy recently directed me to “The Policy Views of American Economic Association Members: The Results of a New Survey” which was published this month (though the abstract states the survey was conducted in 2007). There are a bunch of problems with the survey (as noted in the article), but it is interesting to browse through anyway.

The author pulled some highlights from which I pulled the things I found most interesting:

Environmental Issues. Economists are almost unanimous in agreeing that the U.S. should not ban genetically modified crops and are very skeptical of the economic and environmental benefits of the federal subsidy to ethanol…55 percent, favor eliminating government subsidies to ethanol production and another 23 percent favor reducing the subsidy, while only 12 percent endorse the current level and 10 percent favor a hike.”

My comments: Economist are making sense here.

“Health Issues...They strongly favor a policy that has received scant political or media consideration—reducing barriers to entering the medical profession—by roughly 2.5 to 1…Another market-based idea is to tackle shortages of human body organs by allowing payments to organ donors and their families. As Table 1 reports, this idea is favored by over 70 percent of economists, with only 16 percent opposed. Finally, the majority (61 percent) of economists are skeptical of attacking health problems by imposing taxes on unhealthy foods.”

My comments: Really? You think paying organ donors is a good idea? That really seems like it would just drive the poor to give up organs (or their families’ organs) to make money. It seems like the burden of organ “donation” would fall to the poor in a pretty disturbing way. I favor forcing people to opt-out of organ donation instead of opt-in. I agree that we shouldn’t tax unhealthy food.

The Fed: In recent decades, several central banks around the world have adopted explicit inflation targets. If the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, were to target the inflation rate what range should it pick? As Table 3 reports, most economists would select a narrow range around 2 percent.”

My comments: I actually don’t know what this would mean for me, but I figure if economists are going to be right about something, it’d be what the Fed should do, right?

Here is a link to the article (pdf).


About Sylvia Fredericks

Second-Year MPA student at the La Follette School for Public Affairs (University of Wisconsin - Madison)
This entry was posted in Economics. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Economists Views on Policy Issues

  1. GMO is to today’s scientific knowledge what DDT was to our knowledge about 20 years ago, which is not much… until we realized that DDT was very dangerous and the cause of many medical conditions, and therefore banned. The world does not seem to learn from its own mistakes.
    GMO is ONLY good for biofuels. We wish it could feed the world too but then how come we have not seen any spectacular improvements in world’s hunger, even at a local level? Improvements should be significant since GM crops supposedly give better yields! For one farmer claiming higher yields, we get one who publishes lower yields than expected.
    So I think GMOs should be banned except for biofuel purposes, until we figure it all out.
    Great news for us all on the GMO front anyway! Federal Judge rules against Monsanto’s GM sugar beets, mentioning USDA failures. Read or

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