Commentary

What Do Economists Think About Health Care, Free Trade, Etc.

EconJournal Watch, an on-line peer reviewed journal that tracks controversies within the academic economics profession, has published an article by Robert Whaples (September 2009) describing the results of a new survey of professional American economists on key policy issues.

Some of the results might be surprising. For example, 72 percent reject the idea that employers should be required to provide health insurance to all their employees. Most oppose extending the same mandates to full-time employees, and paying a tax to government to subsidize health care if they don’t.

Less surprisingly, economists continue to be fans of free trade, and believe we need to reduce trade barriers. While they aren’t as convinced that continued economic growth improves happiness for those living in developing countries, they do believe that growth enhances the well being of those residents.

Most economists (over 70 percent) believe that Wal-Mart’s social benefits exceed its costs on average while they aren’t quite as convinced Cassinos pay their full weight.

Lot’s more can be found in the article, and it’s worth perusing if you want a sense of where the economics profession appears to stand on key policy issues.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.