Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

AEA Ideology: Campaign Contributions of American Economic Association Members, Committee Members, Officers, Editors, Referees, Authors, and Acknowledgees


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This paper investigates the 2004-election-cycle campaign contributions of the leadership of the American Economic Association. By cross-checking a name with an occupation, employer, and address, I develop a contribution profile for a sample of 2,000 AEA members, then use this profile as a benchmark to examine contributions of editors, referees, authors, and acknowledgees of the 2003 and 2004 issues of the American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Literature, and Journal of Economic Perspectives. Association members were 5 times more likely to give to Democrats than to Republicans. American Economic Review authors appearing in regular issues were about 9 times more likely. Authors in the discretionary AEA publications were 38 times more likely. I find that in those publications where the editors have more discretion in choosing authors, author contributions look more like those of the editors and less like those of the members. For the various forms of leadership—officers, committee members, and editors—I generally find ratios more lopsided than among the regular membership. Remarkably few contributed to Republican campaigns. Such ratios challenge the American Economic Association’s claim that “widely different issues are given a hearing in its annual meetings and through its publication,” and its suggestion that the Association represents “people of all shades of economic opinion.”