If All Economists were Men

October 9, 2012 - 10:05 AM

Polling of economists show that the majority in this profession lean towards free market and limited government principles. Stories, such as this in US Daily Review, made by economists, beat the drum that our current economic crisis is government-driven. Somehow, the liberal views still seem to reach "the top" of public knowledge because high school classes and news rooms are not run by economists, but by those who present the data that is most relevant to them.

The job of those who pursue "social justice" over economic understanding would become even more challenging, according to a recent poll, if all economists were men. There appears to be a significant gap between male and female economists on several major issues, according to the survey:

  • "Health insurance. Female economists thought employers should be required to provide health insurance for full-time workers: 40% in favor to 37% against, with the rest offering no opinion. By contrast, men were strongly against the idea: 21% in favor and 52% against.
  • Education. Females narrowly opposed taxpayer-funded vouchers that parents could use for tuition at a public or private school of their choice. Male economists love the idea: 61% to 14%.
  • Labor standards. Females believe 48% to 33% that trade policy should be linked to labor standards in foreign counties. Males disagreed: 60% to 23%."

Therefore if all economists were men, a potentially "perfect world" might exist for those with liberty or conservative leanings; there would be virtually no support for things like government health care, there would be much stronger support for school choice programs, and there would be a stronger emphasis on free markets in trade. On the other hand, the same high school educators and news rooms will still be handling the content, so it may not matter.

Basically, the more market-based economists (predominantly male) look at what happens as a result of economic policy rather than what is the intent of the policy.  Male economists (at a rate of 2 to 1) are more likely to be critical of federal minimum wage laws, believing that the purpose of such may be to improve the quality of low skilled and low income workers, but the actual result is lost jobs and opportunities.

According to a USA Today article covering the survey, "'It's very puzzling,' says free-market economist Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. 'Not a day goes by that I don't ask myself why there are so few women economists on the free-market side.'  A native of France, de Rugy supported government intervention early in her life but changed her mind after studying economics. 'We want many of the same things as liberals -- less poverty, more health care -- but have radically different ideas on how to achieve it.'"

Puzzling indeed!

My "dream" (this is more of an intellectual exercise than an aspiration) is not likely to happen, since the number of women in the economics field is growing: "One-third of economics doctorates now go to women. The chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers has been a woman three of 27 times since 1946 -- one advising Obama and two advising Bill Clinton. The Federal Reserve Board of Governors has three women, bringing the total to eight of 90 members since 1914."

However, as one who prefers free markets over a command economy and reality over intention, exercises such as this are still entertaining.

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