Is There an Obvious Free Market Bias in Economics Journals?

Cite this Article
Josh Wright, Is There an Obvious Free Market Bias in Economics Journals?, Truth on the Market (February 08, 2011),

So Paul Krugman asserts:

I can well imagine that it’s hard to be a conservative in some social sciences, but in economics, the obvious bias in things like acceptance of papers at major journals is towards, not against, a doctrinaire free-market view.

I doubt it.  That is testable, I suppose; so long as one can find a workable definition of “doctrinaire free-market view.”  But that’s besides the point.   Anyway, I suspect Krugman is wrong.  This is a subject — that is, bias for or against free-market outcomes in economics — I’ve written about before at TOTM.

For example, there was this NY Times column on the free market orthodoxy in modern economics departments.  I think Alex Tabarrok had it right when he responded to that column:

It beggars belief when economists at Princeton, Harvard and Berkeley claim that they are lone voices in the wilderness boldly striking heterodox positions against the hegemony of “free market economics.”

David Card, for example, says “You lose your ticket as a certified economist if you dont say any kind of price regulation is bad and free trade is good.”  Really? Card and Krueger’s famous paper on the minimum wage was a 1993 NBER working paper published in the AER in 1994. What happened then in 1995? Was Card decertified, drummed out of the profession, vilified by his peers? Hardly, in 1995 David Card was honored (deservedly imho) by the American Economic Association with the John Bates Clark medal.

As I wrote here, I also suspect that the law and economics (behavioral law and economics, anyone?) and industrial organization branches of the economics world that I am most familiar with do not exhibit the sort of free-market bias Krugman asserts.   If anything, I suspect that publication at major journals cuts the other way in antitrust / IO publications as well.   I don’t know if anybody has done any serious empirical work on this — but if so, please point it out in the comments.