Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics


News & Press

EJW beyond Econ

There aren’t many strong parallels to Econ Journal Watch in contiguous social sciences. People from such disciplines have often said they need an EJW in their discipline.

EJW has sometimes ventured into contiguous social sciences, as with its symposium on legal conceptions of property (link), an exchange in industrial ecology (link), and an exchange on sociological research on racial discrimination (link). In the September issue we feature an article on gender sociology’s neglect of scientific findings on sex differences (link).

EJW is open to articles from contiguous disciplines. One may read our section descriptions and think about applying the section concepts to other disciplines. On submitting work to EJW, see here.

“Economists on the Welfare State and Regulatory State” panel discussion

On October 13, Econ Journal Watch editor Daniel Klein chaired a Mercatus Center panel discussion of the EJW symposium “Economists on the Welfare State and the Regulatory State: Why Don’t Any Argue in Favor of One and Against the Other?” The panelists were Donald Boudreaux, Scott Sumner, and Jeremy Rabkin. Watch below, or via YouTube.

Don Boudreaux has kindly posted online the text of his commentary.

The EJW symposium on this topic was published in the January issue (download, .pdf). Contributors included Dean Baker, Andreas Bergh, Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Robert Higgs, Arnold Kling, Anthony Randazzo and Jonathan Haidt, Scott Sumner, and Cass Sunstein.


Research by Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys published in the September 2008 issue of EJW was featured in a segment of the Home Box Office television program "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" that criticized public subsidies for stadiums. The episode in question aired July 12, and the segment can be viewed for free online here.

Call for papers: Classical Liberalism in Econ, by Country

We invite proposals for papers on the status of classical liberalism in the economics profession in a particular country, to be published as a symposium in a future issue of Econ Journal Watch. Tell us which country you propose to write about, how you would go about doing it, what you’d expect to say, and why you are qualified to write such a paper. Send communications/​proposals to the chief editor Daniel Klein at

In proposing or undertaking such a submission, consider the following suggestions:

  • Tell a little about the country’s tradition of classical liberal economics, the trajectory, the ups and downs. Who have been the central players?
  • Tell a little about the overall tenor of academic economics in the country. Does it have a mainstream? Is it generally congenial to classical liberalism? Is it hostile?
  • In what ways does it differ significantly from professional economics in the United States?
  • What are the most significant centers, departments, networks of classical liberal economics? Who are the notable individuals?
  • How did the centers and departments develop? Are they well accepted? Are they under attack?
  • Are there classical liberal economists in the public discourse? Are some outside academia?

Authors should temper impulses to use the assignment unduly as an opportunity for in-group promotion or self-congratulation.

Submissions will be externally refereed by economists from the country, and not only by classical liberal economists. Submissions should be between 3000 and 10,000 words.

UPDATE: As of September 2018, eighteen articles have been published in the series. They are accessible here.

Below we shall maintain a list of countries for which we have received promising contact from individuals who are intending to write about the named country, or pondering doing so. But even if your country is listed below, do still contact us, as the plan for those countries is not necessarily set, and collaboration is possible:

  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • France
  • Hungary
  • Romania

We shall keep this listing current. If your country is not listed here, and has not been already covered, you can get first dibs. We welcome your contact!

Call for papers for “Government Propaganda Watch” symposium

Econ Journal Watch usually watches the economics profession, but in one future symposium we will ‘watch’ the government. We invite critiques of the propaganda of particular government agencies. The propaganda need not be expert government reports and the like; the focus may be on outreach propaganda such as government websites, pamphlets, speeches, educational videos, and so on.

We are looking for informed, scholarly, temperate criticism of claims made in government propaganda.

Publication of the symposium is tentatively scheduled for the January 2017 issue of EJW.

George Selgin has written a critique of Federal Reserve System propaganda. The paper appears in Cato Journal. Selgin’s piece serves as a nice example of what we are looking for.

If you are interested in developing and submitting such a piece, we encourage you to write to us to describe what you have in mind. Tell us the agency you will criticize and instance some false claims found in its propaganda. Tell us why you wish to undertake the piece, and about your scholarly or professional background in the policy issues and institutions involved.

We are open to proposals from scholars and experts outside of economics. One need not be an economist to contribute to this symposium. The aim is to shine a light on the government’s propagation of falsehoods, and one certainly need not be an economist to do that.

Send communications/​proposals to the chief editor Daniel Klein at

EJW editorial team warmly welcomes Professor Garett Jones!

Econ Journal Watch is delighted to welcome Garett Jones as a new Co-Editor of the journal. Jones is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University (link to Jones’s homepage). His research has spanned monetary economics, economic growth, and experimental game theory. Jones greatly strengthens the EJW team by virtue of his all-around good sense and his high technical competence in economic analysis and empirical methods.

Jones currently serves in editorial capacities at the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, and he has been a guest blogger at EconLog. Having majored in history as an undergraduate, he often takes advantage of George Mason’s scholarly communities to learn economic history and the history of thought, and he contributes to those communities as co-host of the Adam Smith Reading Group. His email address is jonesgarett@​, and his Twitter handle is @GarettJones.

Increased coverage of occupational licensing in labor economics textbooks

In a new EJW Audio podcast, Frank Stephenson discusses the 2009 EJW article “Occupational Licensing: Scant Treatment in Labor Texts” that he co-authored with Erin Wendt. Here is a note from Stephenson describing positive changes that have taken place since publication of that article:

Two of the three textbooks that previously neglected occupational licensing were Fundamentals of Labor Economics (by Thomas Hyclak, Geraint Johnes, and Robert Thornton) and Labor Economics (by George Borjas).

In a “new to this edition” summary of a revised version of their book, Hyclak, Johnes, and Thornton note that they have “[a]dded the topic of occupational licensing” and explain that “Occupational licensing requirements now affect more than twice as many workers as do unions in the U.S.; and recent work by Kleiner, Krueger, and others has analyzed the growth and impacts of licensing. Yet other labor economics textbooks devote little or no attention to this increasingly important topic.”

The Borjas book has also added coverage of occupational licensing. The text’s current edition includes occupational licensing as one of its “Theory at Work” features which typically comprise a page or less of the text.

EJW-Mercatus Symposium: A Worthy Exception!

From Daniel Klein:

EJW means to stick to its focus on two things:

  1. Critical commentary on specific economic articles or books;
  2. Studies of the character, institutions, practices, and judgments of professional economists.

Neither of those, however, is the focus of the symposium on sovereign debt crisis. The symposium is a special exception. The reason for the exception was that the world needed discussion of tipping-point scenarios and crash dynamics, and the EJW platform was serviceable for this purpose.

Tyler Cowen and I agreed on the need. Then followed the EJW-Mercatus collaboration, of which EJW is honored and grateful.

New Buturovic-Klein Survey on Economic Enlightenment, Results Coming May 2011

Zeljka Buturovic and Daniel Klein have designed and fielded a new survey with 17 questions of basic economic insight. The survey was completed only recently. The results will appear in the May 2011 issue of Econ Journal Watch.

Their previous study, which was based on a survey designed and fielded by Buturovic for other purposes, generated a great deal of controversy, particularly for its result that leftists scored much lower than conservatives and libertarians in economic enlightenment.

Eleven web critics were invited to write up their criticisms for Econ Journal Watch, and four graciously did so.

The major criticism of the initial study was that some of the eight questions used to gauge economic enlightenment challenged leftist sensibilities, but none specifically challenged conservative or libertarian sensibilities.

Taking this shortcoming to heart (and acknowledging it in their original article), Buturovic and Klein have designed a new survey to overcome the problem. They have expanded the number of economic-enlightenment questions from eight to 17. The expanded set consists of the original eight and nine new questions. The nine new questions challenge conservative and/or libertarian sensibilities.

As in the original survey, the economic questions all had the following format:

Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Somewhat Agree
  3. Somewhat Disagree
  4. Strongly Disagree
  5. Not Sure

The original eight questions, unchanged in the new survey, are as follows:

1. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.
Unenlightened: Disagree

2. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.
Unenlightened: Disagree

3. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.
Unenlightened: Disagree

4. Rent control leads to housing shortages.
Unenlightened: Disagree

5. A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.
Unenlightened: Agree

6. Third-world workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.
Unenlightened: Agree

7. Free trade leads to unemployment.
Unenlightened: Agree

8. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.
Unenlightened: Disagree

The nine new questions, all of which challenge conservative and/or libertarian sensibilities, are as follows:

9. A dollar means more to a poor person than it does to a rich person.
Unenlightened: Disagree

10. By participating in the marketplace in the United States, immigrants reduce the economic well-being of American citizens.
Unenlightened: Agree

11. When a country goes to war its citizens experience an improvement in economic well-being.
Unenlightened: Agree

12. Making abortion illegal would increase the number of black-market abortions.
Unenlightened: Disagree

13. Legalizing drugs would give more wealth and power to street gangs and organized crime.
Unenlightened: Agree

14. Drug prohibition fails to reduce people’s access to drugs.
Unenlightened: Disagree

15. Gun-control laws fail to reduce people’s access to guns.
Unenlightened: Disagree

16. When two people complete a voluntary transaction, they both necessarily come away better off.
Unenlightened: Agree

17. When two people complete a voluntary transaction, it is necessarily the case that everyone else is unaffected by their transaction.
Unenlightened: Agree

The results of the new survey will appear in the May 2011 issue of Econ Journal Watch.

Matthew Brown joins EJW Advisory Council

Dr. Matt Brown, EJW's first manging editor EJW’s first Managing Editor was Matthew Brown, who helped to create EJW and who served for more than three years. In August, 2010 Matt was awarded his doctorate in economics at Florida State University, under the supervision of James Gwartney and Bruce Benson. His dissertation is entitled, “Determinants of Economic Institutions.”

We at EJW offer Matt our hearty congratulations and wishes of continued future prosperity — and we welcome Dr. Brown to the EJW Advisory Council!