Simon Wren-Lewis'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 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:
Neither agree nor disagree
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:
Disagree
Confidence level:
Not 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:
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:
E. Near unanimity not known
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Those voting Leave wanted control over EU immigration, and it is pretty clear that EU membership precludes that. However polling evidence also showed that most would not be prepared to pay for this: indeed many thought restricting immigration would lead to economic benefits. This suggests the message of economics that leaving would be costly failed to get through or was not believed. Understanding why that is is crucial, and although I indicate that I think it was largely a media failure, we really need some good research on this (relatively quickly while it is fresh in people's minds).

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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:
Extremely confident
Comment:
The media typically fail to inform readers or viewers when an economic view represents a broad consensus or a small minority. I frequently heard media discussion of Brexit economics which failed in this way. At the very least we need two things. First, an ability through regular surveys of ALL academic economists (not just it's 'stars') to find out economists views are on key issues. It should be fairly easy for a body like the RES to organise these. Second, we need representatives to speak to these views, rather than their own. That will be more difficult, but should not be impossible.

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