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Dilbert Survey of Economists

Dilbert Survey of Economists

    As promised, here are the results of my survey of economists. You can see three views into the results today, and I plan to blog more about it this week. 

    (Format problems are because my blogging software is finnicky.)

    1. My opinion on the results, on CNN.com http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/16/dilbert.economy/index.html

    2. Detailed survey data: http://dilbert.com/dyn/ppt/Draft-report—9-3-08.ppt

    3. Press release (below)

    [Some contact information removed here]

     Dilbert Survey of Economists Democratic Economists Favor Obama. Republican Economists Favor McCain. Independents Lean Toward Obama. 

    Dublin, CA (September 10, 2008) – 
    Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, commissioned a survey of over 500 economists to find out which candidate for President of the United States would be best for the economy long term.

    Says Adams, “I found myself wishing someone would give voters useful and unbiased information about which candidate has the best plans for the economy. Then I realized that I am someone, which is both inconvenient and expensive.”

    At considerable personal expense, Adams commissioned a survey of over 500 economists, drawn from a subset of the members of the American Economic Association, a non-political group, some of whose members had agreed in advance to be surveyed on economic questions. The results do not represent the AEA’s position. The survey was managed by The OSR Group, a respected national public opinion and marketing research company.

    Nationally, most economists are male and registered as either Democrats or Independents. The survey sample reflects that imbalance.

    48%     Democrats

    17%     Republicans

    27%     Independents

    3%       Libertarian

    5%       Other or not registered

    86% of the economists surveyed are male, and 65% work in the field of academia or education. The rest are spread across various industries or not working.

    When asked which candidate for President would be best for the economy in the long run, not surprisingly, 88% of Democratic economists think Obama would be best, while 80% of Republican economists pick McCain. Independent economists, who in this sample are largely from the academic world, lean toward Obama by 46% compared to 39% for McCain. Overall, 59% of the economists say Obama would be best for the economy long term, with 31% picking McCain, and 8% saying there would be no difference.

    The economists were asked to rank the most important economic issues and pick which candidate they thought would do the best job on those issues. 
     Rank   Issues                            Obama      McCain     No Diff.

    1          Education                          59%           14%           27%

    2          Health care                        65%           20%           15%

    3          International trade              26%           51%           23%

    4          Energy                              61%           22%           17%

    5          Encouraging
                Technology/innovation       43%           23%           34%

    6          Wars and 
                homeland security              58%           30%           11%

    7          Mortgage/housing crisis     41%           18%           41%

    8          Social Security                  40%           24%           35%

    9          Environmental policy          72%             9%           19%

    10        Reducing the deficit           37%           29%           33%

    11        Immigration                       33%           29%           38%

    12        Increasing taxes                 79%           14%             7%

                on wealthy

    13        Reducing waste                 16%           38%           46%

                in government

    The economists in the survey favor Obama on 11 of the top 13 issues. But keep in mind that 48% are Democrats and only 17% are Republicans. Among Independents, things are less clear, with 54% thinking that in the long run there would either be no difference between the candidates or McCain would do better.

    Adams puts the survey results in perspective: “If an economist uses a complicated model to predict just about anything, you can ignore it. By analogy, a doctor can’t tell you the exact date of your death in 50 years. But if a doctor tells you to eat less and exercise more, that’s good advice even if you later get hit by a bus. Along those same lines, economists can give useful general advice on the economy, even if you know there will be surprises. Still, be skeptical.”

    [Some contact information removed]

    Interview requests for Scott Adams can be directed to scottadams@aol.com. Adams will only be responding by e-mail for the next few months due to some minor surgery to fix a voice issue.

    Some of you will wonder how reliable a bunch of academics are when it comes to answering real life questions about the economy. You might prefer to know what CEOs think. But remember that CEOs are paid to be advocates for their stockholders, not advocates for voters. Asking CEOs what should be done about the economy is like asking criminals for legal advice. More on that this week.

    And for my view on the value economists: http://dilbert.com/blog/?Date=2008-08-22

    Any help in distributing this information across the Internet would be appreciated.

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