Are economists ideological zealots who come up with models and quantitative devices to corroborate their preconceived notions? That may be the case for some, but Adam Ozimek at Moody’s Analytics catalogs a number of cases where prominent economists have changed their opinions based on empirical work in the field.
Narayana Kocherlakota spent three years at the head of the Minneapolis Fed criticizing monetary policy as risking out-of-control inflation and unlikely to help the economy. Then in 2012, he made an about face, telling the New York Times that “a wave of research gradually convinced him that he was wrong.” As a result he became one of the most strident proponents of more monetary stimulus.
Ozimek cites economists who have changed their minds on other matters, including that free trade can lead to job losses in some areas that are both substantial and persistent, that recessions can have permanent negative effects on output, and that standardized tests may well be a good measure of teacher performance.
Definitely worth thinking about his parting shot: “Has a single economics study changed your mind on an important issue?”
UPDATE:!!! Tyler Cowen weighs in with a long list. And Paul Krugman, too!