John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis

Should Economists Rule the World?

Apparently the evidence is not favorable. I suppose it makes sense that this should appear in a political science journal.
Two thoughts:

  • I wonder what the evidence might say for developed countries. (Although I suppose the sample size is rather small.) Perhaps one could look at the percentage of economists in the congresses or parliaments around the world.
  • All economists are not the same. How much of the results are driven by free-market ideologues (the “Chicago school” economists) vs. more mainstream practitioners?

Abstract below. Story in Chronicle of Higher Education.

Should Economists Rule the World? Trends and Implications of Leadership Patterns in the Developing World, 1960–2005
Anil Hira
Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6 Canada
This article examines more carefully the oft-made hypotheses that (1) “technocrats” or politicians with an economics background are increasingly common and (2) that this “improvement” in qualifications will lead to improvements in economic policy. The article presents a database on the qualifications of leaders of the world’s major countries over the past four decades. The article finds that while there is evidence for increasing “technification,” there are also distinct and persistent historical patterns among Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American leaders. Using statistical analysis, the article finds that we cannot conclude that leadership training in economics leads to better economic outcomes.

Filed under: Economics

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