Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

The Degree of Consensus among Economic Educators in a Transition Economy

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

The Degree of Consensus among Economic Educators in a Transition Economy

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

How much do economists disagree? Various researchers have explored this question over the years (Kearl, Pope, Whiting, & Wimmer, 1979; Frey, Pommerehne, Schneider, & Gilbert, 1984; Block & Walker, 1988; Frey & Eichenberger 1992; Ricketts & Shoesmith, 1992; Alston, Kearl, & Vaughan, 1992; Becker, Walstad, & Watts, 1994; Fuller & Geide-Stevenson, 2003). In a profession with different theoretical and ideological approaches and competing schools of thought some disagreement is inevitable, however, while disagreement among economists is a part of economic tradition, many studies have found that there is more agreement than disagreement among economists in Northern American and Western European countries. This paper adds another dimension to the existing research by examining whether economists from the countries that are in the process of establishing market economies have achieved a similar level of agreement. By replicating the survey of opinions from Alston et al. (1992) in Belarus, this paper attempts to answer the following research questions: What is the degree of consensus on economic issues among Belarusian economic educators? Did retraining programs in market economic principles shift these opinions? How do the results of the survey conducted in Belarus differ from the findings of the same survey among American economists?

PREVIOUS RESEARCH ON CONSENSUS AMONG ECONOMISTS

Over the last 30 years a number of studies have examined the areas of agreement and disagreement among economists over time and across countries. The first survey examined economic consensus on 30 propositions. Kearl, Pope, Whiting, and Wimmer (1979) used the criterion of relative entropy. They concluded that there is consensus among economists on most economic issues and found that 211 members of American Economic Association (AEA) tend to agree on "textbook" microeconomic and positively stated issues, but disagree about statements that involve macroeconomic concepts and have value judgments.

Another study (Frey et al., 1984) analyzed the results of similar surveys conducted in France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and compared the responses to those from the USA. Although the results from each of the four European countries were different, the researchers found the least disagreement among economists regarding issues concerning the effectiveness of the price mechanism and the market system and that American, German, and Swiss economists tended to support typical "textbook" neoclassical propositions, while Austrian and French economists were more inclined to agree with broader government presence in the economy. Frey et al. argued that possible causes for this disagreement could be different historical and cultural backgrounds.

Canadian economists Block and Walker (1988) found that Canadian and U.S. economists have similar views on most propositions. In general, Canadian economists also tend to support the idea of effectiveness of the price mechanism in allocation, but they are less supportive of any "interventionist policy" by government than their American colleagues except in areas of government's redistributive role.

Surveys of British economists were published in 1990 and 1992 by M. Ricketts and E. Shoesmith. They found that British economists were more likely to support government intervention into market operations and income distribution.

Another attempt to analyze the degree of consensus was undertaken by Alston, Kearl, and Vaughan (1992). They analyzed the responses of American economists with an updated survey (later referred as AKV-92 survey) in order to look at the shifts in opinions over time. A new "vintage of degree" factor was used and the results showed that it played an important role for 40% of the statements. For example, the respondents who received their degrees in Economics before 1970s showed a greater support for Keynesian propositions and lower support for monetarists' statements. …

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