Which economist do you agree with most? Take this quiz to find out!

August 20, 2013

Brian Eno once quipped that even though The Velvet Underground & Nico album sold around 30,000 copies in its first five years, every single one of those 30,000 people started a band. The IGM Economic Experts Panel is like the The Velvet Underground & Nico of economics sites: I'm sure very few people read it, but pretty much all of us who do read it write for other economics blogs.

The site, run by the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, takes regular polls of a set panel of influential economists — including the Nobel laureate Eric Maskin, John Bates Clark medal winners Daron Acemoglu, Raj Chetty, Jonathan Levin and Emmanuel Saez, and current and former White House aides Austan Goolsbee, Michael Greenstone, Edward Lazear, Cecilia Rouse and James Stock — on a variety of topics related to public policy, to get a sense of how much consensus and/or debate there is on those topics within the economics profession.

The findings of consensus are usually predictable. Economists, sure enough, hate rent control, licensing requirements and the gold standard, love free trade (including with China), high-skilled immigration, congestion pricing and carbon taxes, and think the Laffer curve is a bunch of baloney. Other answers are more surprising. The panelists lean toward supporting tougher capital requirements on big banks and backing the 2009 stimulus package, and, by a wide margin, back increasing the minimum wage to $9 an hour and indexing it to inflation. The results don't always map easily onto U.S. political divides. The panelists don't like backing manufacturing relative to other sectors and are sympathetic to taxing capital income less than labor income, but they also like infrastructure spending and hate the debt ceiling.

Of course, there's a lot of disagreement within the panel, so Insight Data fellow Chris Said had the bright idea of creating a quiz with 105 questions that have been posed to the panel (here's his explanation of how it works; here's the Python code he used to scrape the questions). The quiz lets you see which economist you end up agreeing with most. Harvard economist Greg Mankiw came closest to Yale's Ray Fair; Matt Yglesias was closest to Yale's Judith Chevalier; I was closest to Yale's William Nordhaus. Basically, everyone agrees with Yale. Anyway, if you want to kill 20 minutes or so, give it a look, or use a version of it below:

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Brad Plumer · August 20, 2013