Martin Ellison's picture
Affiliation: 
University of Oxford
Credentials: 
Professor of economics

Voting history

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

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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:
Agree
Confidence level:
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:
C. Different preferences
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
I think we have to be careful not to promote a cosy narrative that does not challenge our profession too much. What if, instead, the leave supporters made a well-informed rational choice that it was in their own interests to leave the EU? It's not difficult to believe this - many people see a decline in their community and a failure of politics to offer a viable solution for turning it around. These people are worried about not having a house, not having a job, and having to send their children to a failing school. With no faith that political parties would create meaningful reforms, to them it seems worth the risk of voting to leave. My worry is that we in the economics profession are not just *seen* as part of the class that benefits from the modern economy, we *are* the class that benefits from membership of the EU. We live in successful metropolitan areas close to our universities, earning salaries many multiples of those in most of the leave areas, and have only limited interactions with the other regions of the UK. I have colleagues who have been in the UK many years and still never been outside Oxford and London. Many academics send their kids to private schools.

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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:
Agree
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
We do not have a good reputation with the general public. This is in part because many different people work under the label of “economist” in the UK, with a range of interests from the theoretical economists working in academia to analysts working in commercial and retail banks. My reading is that the general public often perceive economists as being of the latter type, interested primarily in finance and the interests of the city. This diminishes our credibility and leads to comments like “well they would say that” when we try to present even things we agree upon. So, if there is to be an institutional change, I would like to see it giving a distinct voice to economists concerned with the whole macroeconomy. We need to bang on about poverty, distributional issues, regional policy and the like, just as much as financial market supervision and the value of the exchange rate.

Brexit: the potential of a financial catastrophe and long-term consequences for the UK financial sector

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Question 3: What do you think will be the overall economic consequences of Brexit for the UK?

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Answer:
Significantly negative
Confidence level:
Confident

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