Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What economists (mostly) agree on

Every so often it's worth refreshing our collective memory about the breadth of agreement among professional economists. Because of our well-deserved reputation for not being able to reach a conclusion even if we were laid end to end, the many policy areas for which we are in general agreement are often forgotten.

Greg Mankiw has a collection of 14 statements over which there is general agreement. Read the whole list, but here are my favorites, along with the percentage of economists who agree with them:
1. A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
2. Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%).
6. The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85%)
7. Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)
12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)
13. The government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a “negative income tax.” (79%)
They're my favorites because I think they are the ones that are most at variance with the beliefs of the general public and our fourth estate.