David Bell's picture
Affiliation: 
University of Stirling
Credentials: 
Professor of Economics

Voting history

Are academic economists ‘in touch’ with voters and politicians?

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Question 5: Voters think that the preferences of economists do not align with their own preferences. (This includes the possibility that they thought that the predicted negative economic consequences would not affect them personally).

Do you agree this was an important reason for a majority of UK voters going against the near unanimous advice of the economics profession?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Economists were portrayed as another privileged group that benefited from EU membership. How often was the link made to often tenuous links to EU funding used as a means of discrediting their messages? If you don't like the message, attack the messenger.

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Question 6: Economists did not explain the reasons for this consensus in sufficiently clear language.

Do you agree this was an important reason for a majority of UK voters going against the near unanimous advice of the economics profession?

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Answer:
Strongly agree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
There are far too few academic economists with the ability to convey their arguments clearly to the public, or even with an interest in engaging with the public (doesn't count towards the REF?).

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Question 4: Voters did not believe the economic arguments put forward (for example, because they thought the arguments put forward by macroeconomists with dissenting views made more sense or because voters have little faith in economists in general).

Do you agree that this was an important reason for a majority of UK voters going against the near unanimous advice of the economics profession?

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Answer:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Messages were coming from a variety of sources - press, interest groups, politicians as well as economists. Not clear that economists were able to portray themselves as a distinctive, and more authoritative, source of information.

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Question 3: Voters chose to leave the EU for non-economic reasons.

Do you agree that this was an important reason for a majority of UK voters going against the near unanimous advice of the economics profession?

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Answer:
Neither agree nor disagree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Some voted to leave based on the issue of sovereignty. Others were persuaded by "economic" arguments. These were delivered through simple, often erroneous, sound bites, that perhaps resonated with that section of the public more familiar with game shows than serious debate.

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Question 2: What do you think is the most likely reason that a majority of UK voters went against the near unanimous advice of the economics profession?

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Answer:
A. Non-economic reasons more important
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
Two points: one group who have not seen their circumstances improve over a long period was playing an ultimatum game, arguing that change could not make them worse off. Some had a mistaken view of the nature of sovereignty that was clouded by a nostalgic view of Britain's past and others had concerns about immigration, which in some cases were real but in most were imaginary.

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