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Here is a list of 150 economists who quite clearly can’t distinguish between their personal political views, and economics. If, as they claim, a high level of public spending does an economy harm, they need to explain why various European countries (Sweden in particular) have for a long time had a much higher level of public spending relative to GDP than the U.S., but despite this, have lower debt and deficit levels, and comparable standards of living.

But of course they can’t explain.

150 economists: http://www.scribd.com/doc/48737188/150-Economists-Call-for-Spending-Cuts-to-Boost-the-Economy

Re Sweden, see http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/3212/a/139225

Good point about the study's policy conclusions.

I would have thought that the obviously tempting conclusion (at first glance) would be to bell up the grades of righty profs, and bell down the grades of lefty profs. Though that conclusion too would create difficulties. Lefties and righties pretending to be righties and lefties. Or righties grading even tougher, and lefties even easier, to compensate.

It also fits into the meme of universities being one big lefty cathedral, with lefties fudging standards to promote their students (and colleagues). (Not a meme I would immediately dismiss 100%, even though I think it is more commonly false than true.)

Ralph, it's interesting to look at these names. Looking at them made me wonder - are Republicans more likely to teach 1st and 2nd year courses? I can think of plausible reasons why they would be. At least in economics, the conservative account of the economy (competitive markets, pareto efficiency) is more suited to Econ 1000 than the liberal account of the economy (asymmetric information, social choice theory, complex dynamic equilibria). A Republican who enters the Liberal world of the elite Ivy leagues must have to really enjoy his job - i.e. like teaching. Also, to the extent that the conservative world view is more compatible with the exercise of authority ("Be quiet or leave") we might expect to see more Republican profs in lower level courses.

The authors included 0-1 dummies for instructor gender, subject, and course level. However their crucial finding was that the *slope* of the grade distribution was steeper with Republican profs. So to really check for robustness, what you would need to do is run separate regressions, e.g. by course level (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th year, graduate), or do a course level*republican*SAT score interaction. It could be that the authors results are driven by the steep slope of the grade distribution in 1000 level courses.

Nick, "even though I think it is more commonly false than true" - speaking of lefties and righties pretending to be righties and lefties...

i always thought that many things were, officially or not "graded to a bell curve" - whereas it sounds like republicans here grade to a barbell curve, or a flat line.

there was some controversy in ontario last year in that pass/fail rates for drivers licenses varied widely - high failure rates in cities, very low failure rates in rural test centres - there was outrage at this, and of course, many people flocked to the places where it is easier to pass, even if it means a couple of hours driving there and back.

btg: "whereas it sounds like republicans here grade to a barbell curve, or a flat line"

If you look at the lowest SAT score students, they're getting Cs and Bs from Republican profs, and mostly Bs from Democrat profs. (Remember this is an elite university, however, so even these low SAT score students are probably still pretty bright). If you look at the highest SAT score students, they're getting Bs and As from the Democrat profs, but mostly As from the Republican profs. I'm not sure if that's what you mean by a barbell curve or not.

As an aside, I just booked a driving test for someone, and we definitely had a conversation along the lines of "book me in at test centre A, the failure rate is much lower than in test centre B". But the Ontario testing service has been privatized, so this must be the outcome of an efficient, competitive market process, no?

One of the profs I respect most taught Econ History (presumably because when he was younger it was Econ Current Affairs). We were a small class and by mid-October he made the pronouncement that we, unfortunately, were likely the least competent group he had ever taught. He didn't think any of us would get an A and probably no B+'s either. He didn't say this to discourage or challenge us, but rather as a matter-of-fact statement and somewhat appologetically. We were being graded against the material he was teaching relative to every student he had ever taught.
As for his political leanings, I think he took the view that promoting a specific government policy was only as effective as the government's ability to understand and properly implement it.

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