David Smith's picture
Affiliation: 
Sunday Times
Credentials: 
Economics editor

Voting history

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

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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:
Too often economists assumed that the arguments for staying in the EU were self-evident. There was a lack of clarity, and often a detachment. This was one occasion when it was not sufficient to win the intellectual argument.

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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:
Strongly agree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
A common response I received during the referendum campaign was that it was not just about economics. Somehow, economists were identified with a cold and calculating view of the world, regardless of wider concerns.

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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:
Strongly agree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
Too often, particularly on the broadcast media, the economic arguments appeared to be a tit for tat. Non-experts genuinely didn't know which side to believe.

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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:
Extremely confident
Comment:
"Taking back control", whether related to immigration or sovereignty, was a powerful Leave slogan, to which economists struggled for a response.

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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:
Immigration was clearly the key issue for those who voted to leave the EU. Economists did a decent job in arguing for the economic benefits of immigration but a poor job in responding to the concerns of those who were worried about pressures on public services, an apparently limitless rise in the population, etc.

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