New Economic Society of Australia survey

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Over the years there have been a few of these surveys of economist opinions. A few months ago, Paul Frijters and I believed it was time for an update. We approached the Economic Society of Australia who agreed to fund an update. What followed was months of careful construction of questions with a large number of people having input. The result was this survey managed by Paul and Richard Hayes. The results were released this week and a longer write-up is to follow.

The results speak for themselves. Like previous studies, it turns out economists are largely in agreement on most economic issues. The headline one was a confirmation of Tony Abbott’s recognition that economists don’t agree with him on how to deal with climate change. But Malcolm Turnbull will be comforted that most economists would like to see cost-benefit analyses done on large infrastructure projects. Nor do they see fast broadband as a universal right. That said they also want the long-standing middle class welfare items (like the first home buyer’s grant and baby bonus payments — although the latter is technically gone) dumped.

Where economists disagree is on stuff do with their own actions but I’ll leave that for someone else to delve into.

4 Responses to "New Economic Society of Australia survey"
  1. Most questions seem to me to have the response I’d expect with the exception of the one about whether the private health insurance rebate should be abolished.
    I fail to understand the need for this rebate beyond propping up private health insurers’ businesses at the expense of the tax paying public.  What is so special about these particular businesses?
    This does not seem like a concept I would think more economists would support than not support (46.2% disagree with its abolition against 32.6% who agree with its abolition).
    All other ‘middle class welfare’ seems to be opposed in the survey except this one.  What am I missing here?

  2. I’m inclined to agree that subsidizing private health care is middle class welfare. However if the rebate were abolished, this would likely place more strain on the public health system – especially for elective surgery and such – as the public opted for the “free” (but queued) option.

  3. Has anyone put these in Excel? I’m looking to graph them and list in order of certainty.

  4. Had a play with the survey to find the claims on which there is most and least agreement. Each group goes from highest down. Email me at robertwiblin [at] g mail [dot] [com] for the spreadsheet version.

    Most unanimity:

    Price-based mechanisms – taxes, subsidies or an emissions trading scheme – as opposed to direct regulation, are the more appropriate mechanisms for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
    Substantial monetary easing is an appropriate response to a severe recession.
    Jail sentences are an appropriate punishment option for executives found guilty of participating in price fixing.
    A substantial increase in public spending is an appropriate response to a severe recession.
    A national excess profits tax should be levied on mining industries.
    Government micro-economic policy in Australia should mainly be about correcting market failures.
    Australian governments should introduce congestion pricing for road use in cities.
    The First Home Buyers Grant should be abolished.
    Income tax rate thresholds for Australia should be indexed.
    The national government should aim to balance the budget over a complete economic cycle.

    Most evenly split:

    There would be less unemployment if the minimum wage was lowered.
    A substantial tax cut is an appropriate response to a severe recession.
    Most articles in refereed economics journals are published solely on the basis of their contribution to economic science.
    It is appropriate for Australia to restrict the access of immigrants to some social security benefits.
    Personal taxation should be based on family income, not individual income.
    The Australian government should promote the development of domestic nuclear power production.
    The Goods and Services Tax should be increased and personal and company income taxes correspondingly reduced.
    Inflation is caused primarily by growth in the money supply.
    Increasing federal government power relative to that of the states leads to increased economic efficiency.
    Large balance of trade deficits have adverse effects on the economy.

    Greatest proportion on the fence:

    The government gives too little resources to research and education in economics, compared with other academic disciplines.
    Most articles in refereed economics journals are published solely on the basis of their contribution to economic science.
    Australian undergraduate honours economics programs sufficiently prepare students for work as economists in the private sector.
    Increasing federal government power relative to that of the states leads to increased economic efficiency.
    Australian undergraduate honours economics programs sufficiently prepare students for work as economists in the public sector.
    Lower marginal income tax rates reduce leisure and increase work effort.
    Undergraduate pass degrees in economics should be four years.
    Large balance of trade deficits have adverse effects on the economy.
    The ranking of academic journals by the Australian government, solely on the basis of their international reputations, will discourage research on Australian economic policy issues.
    Australian undergraduate economics degree programs should contain more behavioural economics and experimental economics.

    Fewest on the fence:

    A national excess profits tax should be levied on mining industries.
    A substantial increase in public spending is an appropriate response to a severe recession.
    Price-based mechanisms – taxes, subsidies or an emissions trading scheme – as opposed to direct regulation, are the more appropriate mechanisms for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
    The national government should aim to balance the budget over a complete economic cycle.
    The First Home Buyers Grant should be abolished.
    Government micro-economic policy in Australia should mainly be about correcting market failures.
    Australian governments should introduce congestion pricing for road use in cities.
    The “Baby Bonus” should be abolished.
    Substantial monetary easing is an appropriate response to a severe recession.
    Jail sentences are an appropriate punishment option for executives found guilty of participating in price fixing.

    Most with a strong opinion:

    Price-based mechanisms – taxes, subsidies or an emissions trading scheme – as opposed to direct regulation, are the more appropriate mechanisms for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
    A national excess profits tax should be levied on mining industries.
    The First Home Buyers Grant should be abolished.
    The “Baby Bonus” should be abolished.
    Australian governments should introduce congestion pricing for road use in cities.
    Stamp duties on the transfer of ownership of homes should be abolished.
    Australia should reduce the proportion of its GDP spent on overseas aid.
    The Australian government should promote the development of domestic nuclear power production.
    should be required to have a minimum number of women directors.
    A substantial increase in public spending is an appropriate response to a severe recession.

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