Michael Wickens's picture
Affiliation: 
Cardiff Business School & University of York
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

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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

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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:
Disagree
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:
A. Non-economic reasons more important
Confidence level:
Extremely confident
Comment:
Contrary to what many economists might like to think the referendum was not decided on economic grounds. Most Leave voters seemed to have decided largely on political, not economic, grounds. They understood that there would be an economic cost in the short run but thought that the political benefits were more important, especially in the long run. Where Leave voters took account of economic factors, they were probably voting against the effects of globalisation, especially those in the north of England. For example, Sunderland voted leave even though it was not obviously in their interest.

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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 disagree
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
Economists don’t agree. This is clearly illustrated in the replies to the CFM surveys. Institutionalising the view of the majority would harm the search for the right answer and make the economics profession look ridiculous. Economists should rely on the accuracy of their analysis not on authority or leadership. The UK is not the EU Commission. I prefer an “open society” where we can learn from our mistakes through criticism and considering a plurality of views. This would also best serve the public.

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