Monday, December 08, 2014

Are Economists' Research Findings Biased by Political Ideology?

A new paper examines whether the political ideology of economists influences their findings. 

The authors of the paper have summarized their findings in a popular article on the website Five Thirty Eight entitled "Economists Aren't as Nonpartisan as We Think".

However, I concur with economist Noah Smith, who disagrees that the data show that economists are partisan. Smith argues that the effect size of ideological bias on research findings that was discovered by the researchers is surprisingly small, even though the result is statistically significant.

Now, it is common to confuse the issue of effect size with that of statistical significance, but presumably the authors of the study understand very well the difference between these two concepts. The most likely explanation for the way they are framing their findings is that this is what the journals and Five Thirty Eight want to hear. But who knows?
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