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Values of Economists Matter in the Art and Science of Economics

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  • Hendrik P. van Dalen

Abstract

What role do personal values play in the practice of economists? By means of a survey among economists working inside and outside academia in the Netherlands, we present novel insights on their personal values, how these differ from the average citizen, and how values impact their economic views and their methodological choices. Three overarching values summarize the value structure of economists: achievement, serving the public interest, and conformity to rules. Subsequent tests are performed to see whether these values affect (1) their opinion on economic propositions and (2) their attitudes towards methodological principles in economics. For the majority of economic propositions, personal values matter. Especially the value of serving the public interest has a strong effect on their economic view. Furthermore, it seems that economists who value achievement are the ones who are more likely to embrace mainstream methodological principles: thinking predominantly in terms of efficiency, rationality, and competition, believing that economic knowledge is objective and transparently produced and in agreement with Milton Friedman's view on positive economics. Female economists are at some notable points less convinced of market solutions and have more trust in the government in serving the public interest.

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  • Hendrik P. van Dalen, 2019. "Values of Economists Matter in the Art and Science of Economics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 72(3), pages 472-499, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:72:y:2019:i:3:p:472-499
    DOI: 10.1111/kykl.12208
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    3. van Dalen, Hendrik Peter, 2021. "How the publish-or-perish principle divides a science: The case of economists," Other publications TiSEM a6a5a855-bb5a-4d52-a841-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. van Dalen, Hendrik Peter, 2020. "How the Publish-or-Perish Principle Divides a Science : The Case of Academic Economists," Discussion Paper 2020-020, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    5. Hendrik P. Dalen, 2021. "How the publish-or-perish principle divides a science: the case of economists," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 126(2), pages 1675-1694, February.
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    7. Sami Diaf & Jörg Döpke & Ulrich Fritsche & Ida Rockenbach, 2020. "Sharks and minnows in a shoal of words: Measuring latent ideological positions of German economic research institutes based on text mining techniques," Macroeconomics and Finance Series 202001, University of Hamburg, Department of Socioeconomics.
    8. Ho Fai Chan & Nikita Ferguson & David A. Savage & David Stadelmann & Benno Torgler, 2020. "Is Science Able to Perform Under Pressure? Insights from COVID-19," CREMA Working Paper Series 2020-07, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    9. Hendrik P. van Dalen & Kène Henkens, 2021. "When is fertility too low or too high? Population policy preferences of demographers around the world," Population Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 75(2), pages 289-303, May.
    10. Diaf, Sami & Döpke, Jörg & Fritsche, Ulrich & Rockenbach, Ida, 2022. "Sharks and minnows in a shoal of words: Measuring latent ideological positions based on text mining techniques," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology

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