Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Party Affiliation

Blogger Evan, apparently a student at Rice, writes:

We used Mankiw's text in my micro-econ class during my first semester of undergrad. My professor (not at Rice; I transferred) was a Democrat who told us several times that Mankiw was also a Democrat. So I was quite surprised when Mankiw accepted a position in the Bush administration.
This has happened to me many times before. In 1993, when Bill Clinton became President, a Harvard dean said to me, "Greg, many of your colleagues are leaving to join the new administration, and I wondered whether you might be one of them. But someone told me you're a Republican. Could that possibly be true?"

Why, before I held a political job, did some people assume I was a Democrat?

One reason is that I have worked on new Keynesian models of the business cycle. For some reason, Keynes is an economist often associated with the left. The influence of Keynes, however, goes well beyond politics and ideology. Indeed, the new Keynesian paradigm is increasingly the standard approach to business cycle analysis.

A second reason is that the people making the incorrect assumption about my party affiliation are reasonable, mainstream economists who happen also to be Democrats. Based on my textbooks and other writings, they viewed me as a reasonable, mainstream economist like them and jumped to the conclusion that I must be a Democrat as well. That is probably what Evan's instructor did.

The reason I am a Republican is that, compared to Democrats, the Republicans tend to favor smaller government, lower taxes, and greater reliance on free markets. On many social issues, I find myself agreeing with the Democrats more than the Republicans, and I know that the Republicans are far from perfect on economic issues. (Don't get me started.) But as a classical liberal in the spirit of Milton Friedman, I find myself rooting for the Republican team more often. The recent debate over the minimum wage is a case in point.