The Policy Views of American Economic Association Members: The Results of a New Survey
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This article presents the results of a 2007 policy-views survey of a random sample of members of the American Economic Association. The new survey contains questions about many policy issues not treated by previous surveys. The questions treat such issues as trade restrictions, social insurance for those put out of work by international competition, genetically modified foods, curbside recycling, health insurance (several questions), medical malpractice, barriers to entering the medical profession, organ donations, unhealthy foods, mortgage deductions, taxing internet sales, Wal-Mart, casinos, ethanol subsidies, and inflation targeting. Additional questions treat the relationship between economic growth, happiness, and well-being, whether the typical American consumes too much, works too much, saves too little, and lives in houses that are too large. It finds disagreement on many issues but evidence of considerable agreement on others, including a consensus that the benefits of Wal-Mart stores typically outweigh their costs, that Americans save too little and that economic growth in developed countries increases well being. It finds a consensus in favor of eliminating trade barriers, eliminating or cutting ethanol subsidies, allowing payments to organ donors, and against requiring employers to provide health insurance. The article opens with reflections about why we care whether economists reach a conclusion, and methods for determining whether a consensus has been reached.