Jonathan Portes's picture
Affiliation: 
National Institute of Economic and Social Research
Credentials: 
Director

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:
Not 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:
Neither agree nor disagree
Confidence level:
Not 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:
Very confident
Comment:
This is primarily a question for political scientists and/or sociologists rather than economists. My reading of the research and analysis published to data is that identity/cultural issues were determinative - certainly in the sense that, had the referendum been solely on the question of "is the EU good for the UK economy", I think Remain would have won reasonably clearly. Of course, these non-economic factors cannot be entirely or cleanly separated from economic ones. See for example the work by Matt Goodwin of the University of Kent: http://www.matthewjgoodwin.org/uploads/6/4/0/2/64026337/political_quarterly_version_1_9.pdf

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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 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:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
I am not persuaded institutional change is key here. In fact I think the broad consensus views of the profession were communicated reasonably clearly - for example the joint NIESR/IFS/CEP statement. The issues involved here - what is effective communication, how should messages about economic or statistical issues be framed to as to be effective, etc - are complex, and I would prefer to see further research, evidence and analysis (for instance, commissioned research on the role of "experts" in driving public opinion) before coming to a view on what action the profession should take.

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