Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Republicans Need Not Apply: An Investigation of the American Economic Association Using Voter Registration and Political Contributions


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The American Economic Association (AEA) is the premier national organization for professional economics in the United States. This paper shows that the AEA is nearly devoid of Republicans, though many Republicans are found among its membership, which remains open to all who pay the membership dues. I find that the political skew increases up the AEA hierarchy. I use voter registration and political contribution data to examine what I call ‘players’—AEA officers, editors, authors, and acknowledgees (that is, those thanked in published acknowledgments). For AEA players, the Democratic:Republican ratio is 13:1 in voter registrations and 81:1 in political contributors. The most influential professional association of economists in the United States is dominated by people on the political left.