Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

News & Press

EJW editorial team warmly welcomes Professor Garett Jones!

Econ Journal Watch is delighted to welcome Garett Jones as a new Co-Editor of the journal. Jones is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University (link to Jones’s homepage). His research has spanned monetary economics, economic growth, and experimental game theory. Jones greatly strengthens the EJW team by virtue of his all-around good sense and his high technical competence in economic analysis and empirical methods.

Jones currently serves in editorial capacities at the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, and he has been a guest blogger at EconLog. Having majored in history as an undergraduate, he often takes advantage of George Mason’s scholarly communities to learn economic history and the history of thought, and he contributes to those communities as co-host of the Adam Smith Reading Group. His email address is jonesgarett@​gmail.com, and his Twitter handle is @GarettJones.

Increased coverage of occupational licensing in labor economics textbooks

In a new EJW Audio podcast, Frank Stephenson discusses the 2009 EJW article “Occupational Licensing: Scant Treatment in Labor Texts” that he co-authored with Erin Wendt. Here is a note from Stephenson describing positive changes that have taken place since publication of that article:

Two of the three textbooks that previously neglected occupational licensing were Fundamentals of Labor Economics (by Thomas Hyclak, Geraint Johnes, and Robert Thornton) and Labor Economics (by George Borjas).

In a “new to this edition” summary of a revised version of their book, Hyclak, Johnes, and Thornton note that they have “[a]dded the topic of occupational licensing” and explain that “Occupational licensing requirements now affect more than twice as many workers as do unions in the U.S.; and recent work by Kleiner, Krueger, and others has analyzed the growth and impacts of licensing. Yet other labor economics textbooks devote little or no attention to this increasingly important topic.”

The Borjas book has also added coverage of occupational licensing. The text’s current edition includes occupational licensing as one of its “Theory at Work” features which typically comprise a page or less of the text.

EJW-Mercatus Symposium: A Worthy Exception!

From Daniel Klein:

EJW means to stick to its focus on two things:

  1. Critical commentary on specific economic articles or books;
  2. Studies of the character, institutions, practices, and judgments of professional economists.

Neither of those, however, is the focus of the symposium on sovereign debt crisis. The symposium is a special exception. The reason for the exception was that the world needed discussion of tipping-point scenarios and crash dynamics, and the EJW platform was serviceable for this purpose.

Tyler Cowen and I agreed on the need. Then followed the EJW-Mercatus collaboration, of which EJW is honored and grateful.

New Buturovic-Klein Survey on Economic Enlightenment, Results Coming May 2011

Zeljka Buturovic and Daniel Klein have designed and fielded a new survey with 17 questions of basic economic insight. The survey was completed only recently. The results will appear in the May 2011 issue of Econ Journal Watch.

Their previous study, which was based on a survey designed and fielded by Buturovic for other purposes, generated a great deal of controversy, particularly for its result that leftists scored much lower than conservatives and libertarians in economic enlightenment.

Eleven web critics were invited to write up their criticisms for Econ Journal Watch, and four graciously did so.

The major criticism of the initial study was that some of the eight questions used to gauge economic enlightenment challenged leftist sensibilities, but none specifically challenged conservative or libertarian sensibilities.

Taking this shortcoming to heart (and acknowledging it in their original article), Buturovic and Klein have designed a new survey to overcome the problem. They have expanded the number of economic-enlightenment questions from eight to 17. The expanded set consists of the original eight and nine new questions. The nine new questions challenge conservative and/or libertarian sensibilities.

As in the original survey, the economic questions all had the following format:

Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Somewhat Agree
  3. Somewhat Disagree
  4. Strongly Disagree
  5. Not Sure

The original eight questions, unchanged in the new survey, are as follows:

1. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.
Unenlightened: Disagree

2. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.
Unenlightened: Disagree

3. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.
Unenlightened: Disagree

4. Rent control leads to housing shortages.
Unenlightened: Disagree

5. A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.
Unenlightened: Agree

6. Third-world workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.
Unenlightened: Agree

7. Free trade leads to unemployment.
Unenlightened: Agree

8. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.
Unenlightened: Disagree

The nine new questions, all of which challenge conservative and/or libertarian sensibilities, are as follows:

9. A dollar means more to a poor person than it does to a rich person.
Unenlightened: Disagree

10. By participating in the marketplace in the United States, immigrants reduce the economic well-being of American citizens.
Unenlightened: Agree

11. When a country goes to war its citizens experience an improvement in economic well-being.
Unenlightened: Agree

12. Making abortion illegal would increase the number of black-market abortions.
Unenlightened: Disagree

13. Legalizing drugs would give more wealth and power to street gangs and organized crime.
Unenlightened: Agree

14. Drug prohibition fails to reduce people’s access to drugs.
Unenlightened: Disagree

15. Gun-control laws fail to reduce people’s access to guns.
Unenlightened: Disagree

16. When two people complete a voluntary transaction, they both necessarily come away better off.
Unenlightened: Agree

17. When two people complete a voluntary transaction, it is necessarily the case that everyone else is unaffected by their transaction.
Unenlightened: Agree

The results of the new survey will appear in the May 2011 issue of Econ Journal Watch.

Matthew Brown joins EJW Advisory Council

Dr. Matt Brown, EJW's first manging editor EJW’s first Managing Editor was Matthew Brown, who helped to create EJW and who served for more than three years. In August, 2010 Matt was awarded his doctorate in economics at Florida State University, under the supervision of James Gwartney and Bruce Benson. His dissertation is entitled, “Determinants of Economic Institutions.”

We at EJW offer Matt our hearty congratulations and wishes of continued future prosperity — and we welcome Dr. Brown to the EJW Advisory Council!

Invitation to Critics of Buturovic-Klein on Economic Enlightenment

By Zeljka Buturovic and Daniel Klein

We invite the submission of criticism of our May 2010 EJW piece on economic enlightenment and the follow-up 8 June op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Below we link to 11 criticisms found on the web. We have tried to send an email to those critics, alerting them to our interest in submitting a critical comment of 200-1000 words to Econ Journal Watch. The exchange will be handled by EJW managing editor Kevin Rollins, who will let invited critics say what they like, within the word limit. Submissions of comments to this exchange should be sent to Rollins at the following email address by 31 July 2010: ejw@kevinrollins.com. Comments will appear along with our response in a future issue of Econ Journal Watch—we hope in the September 2010 issue.

The exchange is to “stand alone.” Critics should not assume that readers have read their critical posts elsewhere. Reproduce the points you think most important. Don’t worry about making points that are likely to be made also by other participants in the exchange – coverage, not parsimony, is paramount.

Submissions from others are also welcome, but priority will be given to those specifically invited (including all those listed below).

By the way, we intend to look into the possibility of conducting another survey, to include several questions specifically challenging policy views of conservatives and/or libertarians. We welcome suggestions for such questions.

11 Critics of Buturovic-Klein (all of whom are invited to submit critical commentary)

Many other criticisms appeared, but we believe that this set adequately covers the range of points made against our work.

11 critics listed alphabetically by last name:

CriticVenue and linkDate
1Stephen BainbridgeProfessorBainbridge8 June
2Bruce BartlettCapital Gains and Games8 June
3Jonathan ChaitThe New Republic blog8 June
4Rod HillThe Economics Anti-Textbook12 May
5E.D. KainThe Washington Examiner (and SF Exam.)9 June
6Daniel KuehnFacts and Other Stubborn Things9 May
7”Citizen Rat”Daily Kos10 June
8David RuccioAnticap.com10 May
9Nate SilverFiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right8 June
10Roger WilliamsElephant Journal/Desert Standard13 June
11John K. WilsonDaily Kos11 June

Inside Higher Ed focuses on EJW

EJW was the focus of a major and sympathetic article in Inside Higher Ed, Who You Calling Heterodox? (Oct 3, 2007). The article devoted numerous paragraphs to EJW, and treated EJW editor Dan Klein as the central figure of a classical-liberal “counterinsurgency.”

EJW featured in Regional Focus

In October 2008 the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond published Unsteady State [PDF], the lead article of its journal Regional Focus. The theme of the issue is “The State of Modern Economics.” The article begins by telling of the formation of EJW and the meeting in St. Louis in 2003, and returns to EJW at the end of the article.

We are honored to be featured in the wide ranging contemplation of economics offered by Doug Campbell’s insightful article. The article is particularly noteworthy because in 2005 EJW published a bold article by Lawrence White on the gargantuan role that the Fed plays as employer, funder, and publisher of monetary and macro economists.