nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2019‒02‒18
two papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Axventure AB

  1. Who Said or What Said? Estimating Ideological Bias in Views Among Economists By Javdani, Moshen; Chang, Ha-Joon
  2. Endogenous Maternity Allowances as Exemplified by Academic Promotion Standards By Heinrich Ursprung

  1. By: Javdani, Moshen; Chang, Ha-Joon
    Abstract: There exists a long-standing debate about the influence of ideology in economics. Surprisingly, however, there is no concrete empirical evidence to examine this critical issue. Using an online randomized controlled experiment involving economists in 19 countries, we examine the effect of ideological bias on views among economists. Participants were asked to evaluate statements from prominent economists on different topics, while source attribution for each statement was randomized without participants’ knowledge. For each statement, participants either received a mainstream source, an ideologically different less-/non-mainstream source, or no source. We find that changing source attributions from mainstream to less-/non-mainstream, or removing them, significantly reduces economists’ reported agreement with statements. Using a model of Bayesian updating we examine two competing hypotheses as potential explanations for these results: unbiased Bayesian updating versus ideologically-biased Bayesian updating. While we find no evidence in support of unbiased updating, our results are consistent with biased Bayesian updating. More specifically, we find that changing/removing sources (1) has no impact on economists’ reported confidence with their evaluations; (2) similarly affects experts/non-experts in relevant areas; and (3) affects those at the far right of the political spectrum much more significantly than those at the far left. Finally, we find significant heterogeneity in our results by gender, country, PhD completion country, research area, and undergraduate major, with patterns consistent with the existence of ideological bias.
    Keywords: Ideology, ideological bias, authority bias, Bayesian updating, views among economists
    JEL: A11 A14 C93 D83
    Date: 2019–02–04
  2. By: Heinrich Ursprung
    Abstract: I model the strategic interaction between scientists aiming for promotion and a research institution that seeks a highly productive faculty by setting a maternity allowance in the form of a minimum promotion standard. The model shows that maternity allowances need not derive from moral justice arguments but can emerge endogenously from efficiency considerations. The underlying mechanism rests on the assumption that exceptionally productive female professionals are also exceptionally productive if they choose to become mothers. Even though motherhood temporarily handicaps their productivity, it is exactly this cost of motherhood that signals the mothers’ intrinsic high productivity. I explicitly refer to the academic labor market and use empirical evidence from academia to justify the model’s specification, but the conclusions carry over to promotion decisions at the executive level in most professional lines of occupation.
    Keywords: maternity, job market signaling, fertility, research productivity, highly skilled labor, economics of science, scientometrics
    JEL: C72 D82 J13 J16 M14 M51
    Date: 2019

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