David Cobham's picture
Affiliation: 
Heriot Watt University
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:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Confident

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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

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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:
Strongly agree
Confidence level:
Very confident

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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:
Confident
Comment:
I believe non-economic reasons were important, but in addition voters did not believe the economic arguments put forward, in part because we're poor at explaining them to non-economists, and voters probably had little idea about the spread of economists' views (partly because the BBC felt obliged to do 'balance'). Option C seems to me to have been less important (despite M Gove's best efforts).

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Question 1: Do you agree that the economics profession needs an institutional change that promotes the ability to communicate more effectively with policy-makers and the public at large and to make clear when economists have a united view; and do you agree that we need to introduce leadership to help achieve this improvement through coordinated efforts?

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Answer:
Strongly agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Yes, we need some change, though I'm not sure of what kind. Moreover, some new institutional mechanism won't be useful that often, because economists do disagree on more issues than, say, climate scientists. In addition, we need ourselves to take policy issues and debates and policy interventions more seriously (whatever the incentives the REF does or does not provide) - and, funnily enough, that might be good for our teaching too.

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