Thursday, June 24, 2021

Even Finance Professors Lean Left

You may have thought of finance professors at business schools as likely to be a fairly conservative lot, or at least to include a good number of them. You might think finance would be an exception to the growing political monoculture in US academia. You would be mostly wrong.  

Emre Kuvvet tracked down the party affiliation of finance professors in the top 20 US departments, and wrote up the results in "Even Finance Professors Lean Left


Berkeley has more Republicans than Chicago? I think numbers are low because so many faculty are not US citizens. It's initially striking  how many finance faculty are not even registered to vote, but I suspect that this reflects the large number of non-US citizens in finance departments. 


Here come the millennials... Or, maybe Churchill was right about hearts and brains. 

Journal editors: 

Not even the JFE can manifest many Republicans! 

Of course this is a striking amount of political diversity by the standards of the rest of most universities. 




48 comments:

  1. The "no party affiliation" numbers are OK compared to the Democratic party affiliated. That's a good sign. Who would admit to not liking the Democrats when working in New York City, Boston, or Washington, DC?

    Finance has a self cleansing property: If the idea doesn't make money for individuals, it will not be supported. :-)

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  2. Why focusing on this ratio while other (no party affiliation and not registered people) are numerous. Not sure party affiliation is a good proxy of left-right way of thinking. Regards

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    1. It would be great if all faculty were non-partisan. However, the fact that registered Dems outnumber registered Republicans likely demonstrates that in academia it's far more acceptable to be an overtly partisan Democrat than a partisan Republican.

      Note that the total Dems roughly equals the number of non-partisan (excl not registered), with total Republicans much smaller than both. It's roughly equally acceptable to be a partisan Democrat as to be non-partisan, but not so acceptable to be a partisan Republican. Hey, at least the finance departments don't seem to subscribe to the view that, "It's not enough to not be Republican, one must be anti-Republican." Not yet, anyways.

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    2. It's also true that polls show that there are very few young earth creationists in biology departments. Maybe having fewer intellectuals support a party that supported ignoring or even overturning the results of a free and fair election is not such a bad thing. I too am heartened by the number of unaffiliated/not registered.

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    3. Could it be that the Republican party has allied itself so plainly and openly with kooks that saner people (conservative or not) just cannot possibly declare themselves Republicans?

      This is the party that is too extreme for every previously elected Republican. Reagan would be a RINO and Nixon will be considered a communist. When Cheney's, Bush's, Romney's and McCain's are treated as Democrats, who in their sane mind would call themselves Republicans?

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  3. Not clear how well registration measures political preferences here. If you live in a Democratic monoculture like Cambridge or Berkeley, why would you not register as Democratic so as to get to vote in the Democratic primary (which is the real election)? Surely it's optimal to register as Democratic (conditional on wanting to vote) in order to maximize your impact?

    I'm sure the main point stands, but there's definitely measurement error.

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    1. Yes, I had the same thought. I couldn't tell which primary was being used to assign political party. If it was a presidential primary, I'd be less worried. But if it was a local primary, this could be a big problem.

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  4. John,

    "Or, maybe Churchill was right about hearts and brains."

    Would you please stop attributing quotes to Winston Churchill that he never uttered? There is a whole list of them found here:

    https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/quotes/quotes-falsely-attributed/

    The phrase that you are mis-attributing to Winston Churchill - "If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain."

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    1. Do a little research, it took about 5 seconds to find out:

      https://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2018/07/whoever-is-not-liberal-at-20-has-no.html

      The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in an 1875 French book of contemporary biographical portraits by Jules Claretie. A section about a prominent jurist and academic named Anselme Polycarpe Batbie included the following passage [translated as]

      "Mr. Batbie, in a much-celebrated letter, once quoted the Burke paradox in order to account for his bizarre political shifts: “He who is not a républicain at twenty compels one to doubt the generosity of his heart; but he who, after thirty, persists, compels one to doubt the soundness of his mind.”

      But hearkening back to Burke is interesting, because in Thomas Jefferson's journals one finds an entry relevant to this subject for January 1799. John Adams is president at this time. Jefferson writes:

      "In a conversation between Dr. Ewen and the President, the former said one of his sons was an aristocrat, the other a democrat. The President asked if it was not the youngest who was the democrat. Yes, said Ewen. Well, said the President, a boy of 15 who is not a democrat is good for nothing, and he is no better who is a democrat at 20. Ewen told Hurt, and Hurt told me."

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    2. Francois Guizot: "Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head."

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    3. "In conclusion, the earliest strong match [...] appeared in a letter written by Anselme Batbie in 1872. Significantly, Batbie credited the remark to “Burke”, probably Edmund Burke. QI has not yet located this expression in the writings of Burke, and it is possible that Burke’s changing political behavior inspired the saying and not his words.

      An important precursor was attributed to John Adams in 1799. This remark referred to “democracy”, but it did not mention the heart or head. Another important precursor was attributed to François Guizot in 1861. This statement referred to “républicain”, but it also did not mention the heart or head."

      https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/02/24/heart-head/

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    4. Apparently it was Thomas Jefferson https://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2018/07/whoever-is-not-liberal-at-20-has-no.html

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    5. I heard it as "... If you're not a conservative at 40, you have no money."

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  5. John,

    See:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_attribution

    "Such misattributions may originate as a sort of fallacious argument, if use of the quotation is meant to be persuasive, and attachment to a more famous person (whether intentionally or through misremembering) would lend it more authority."

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    1. Yawn. Who cares? It's hardly relevant to the issue at hand...

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    2. Coker, you know if you can't add anything substantive to a discussion, then point out commas are out of place or something equally pointless ;)

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    3. Who cares[2]. Anyway, funny to see the quotation police in action! I bet 100$ that you are a democrat? ;)

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    4. Coker,

      "Yawn. Who cares? It's hardly relevant to the issue at hand..."

      On the contrary, I believe that it gets right to the heart of the issue.

      Misattributing a quote to Winston Churchill is a method of lending credibility to the message (even though the message is not reflected in the data) in the same way that political affiliation is a method of lending credibility to the work of a finance professor.

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  6. I think I can probably guess who the two libertarians are at UCLA. Well, actually I am only sure about one.

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  7. John is always on point. Differing from lots of other economists, his predictions are usually not far off. It is scary to see the development of the profession moving towards ideology rather than facts. The problem is that conservative economists always believe in academical freedom and freedom of thought, meanwhile more left leaning counter parties aim to suppress the same.

    Thank you John for an always on point.

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  8. Some of the party membership data, including for Illinois, is based on which ballot was selected in the most recent primary election. Trump was uncontested (basically) in the 2020 Republican primary. The Democratic primary was contested. As an independent in a state with open primaries (MA), I always choose the ballot with the most "interesting" primary that year. That may explain the ratio for U. Chicago.

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  9. I wonder if there's any aspect of this that has to do with universities generally being in cities? It's surprising to me that UChicago is so different than Illinois, but the first thing that comes to mind is just that nearly everybody in politics in Chicago is a Democrat, regardless of ideology. I wonder how similar these figures would be if you had some sort of ideology measure instead of just party ID.

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  12. I can only speak anecdotally about my field of engineering and manufacturing. Majority of colleagues now vote democrat as backlash to conservative culture wars (very awkward to work for multinationals while demonizing foreigners and immigrant workforce) and Trump in particular. Trade wars were causing headaches having us unbalanced even before Covid hit. Most people voting democrat now voted republican before and would again at some point

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  13. Let's see: Total 497, Democrats, 134 (27%), Republican, 29 (6%), Other, 334 (67%). Seems to me that there is potential for a party of the silent majority. : ). Have a drink and chill, John, the commies have not taken over yet.

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  14. It was a simple aside, a throw-away line. It wasn't intended to carry the argument. Sure, it's great to know who originally said it, but it just is not a big deal in this context.

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  15. As the ratio of Dems to Repubs is striking, in terms of pedagogy, what percentage of left leaning profs are importing political bias in finance courses and what percentage teach principles of finance from a strictly theoretical and empirical position.

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  16. These figures may accurately reflect historical reality, but it's also possible they just reflect the toxic swamp the Republican party has more recently become — who'd want to be associated with it?

    I'd take comfort from the fact that most academic financial economists have the good sense to say a plague on both houses.

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  17. The republican party no longer represents conservative principles. So, I for example left the party years ago. I joined the Ds just so I could vote in the primaries.

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  18. To a hammer everything looks like a nail.
    To a libertarian .......
    --E5

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  19. Is this really a political matter? It seems to me more a question of blatant herd instinct.

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  20. After Trump seize the Republicans... it's totally normal.

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  21. well speaking from down under I think if one has a brain how could you vote republican.
    From the 'rigged 'election to January 6 republicans seem to find thruth hard to speak

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  22. Is it politically liberal to believe that humans are causing climate change? Will Republicans ever help to mitigate the effects global warming?

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  23. The Delta-variant is romping through S. Africa; 1.1% of the population there has received one-dose of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine; the variant is more contagious than the original virus that affected Europe and America--infectives infect 5 to 8 persons before succumbing to COVID-19 vs. 2 to 3 persons in the case of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus; the infected are dying at rates commensurable with a Cholera epidemic; they are dying for want of medical oxygen; doctors and nurses are overwhelmed; hospitals are turning away the sick and curable. And here we sit discussing whether there are more Democrat-leaning professors of finance than Republican-leaning professors of finance at the top-10 tier universities in the land. There is something very badly amiss with our sense of proportion and priorities in this. It's "I'm O.K., Jack!" business as usual here in America where the politicos are discussing a further $6 trillions of spending measures and entitlements, but can't seem to get their heads around the notion that perhaps, just perhaps, the rest of the world needs a little help from this introverted and conceited nation of self-dealers. As for Kuvvet's article, what a consummate waste of time and energy. Life is far too short for such trivialities.

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    1. https://ir.vanderbilt.edu/handle/1803/9474

      On May 4, 1965, two months after the first Marines landed in Vietnam, Lyndon B. Johnson spoke at a dinner meeting with the Texas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. “So we must be ready to fight in Vietnam," he famously announced, "but the ultimate victory will depend upon the hearts and the minds of the people who actually live there.”

      Perhaps talking about the political leanings of finance professors is a better alternative to having the US committed to another foreign entanglement?

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    2. The message conveyed, "we don't know if we will win." His decision led to the death of a lot of young men, needlessly.

      If America is afraid of 'forein entanglements', it follows the example of Rome at the decline and fall of its empire. Putin's characterization of the U.S. then becomes true; and, you can kiss the free world goodbye from this day on.



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    3. Old Eagle Eye: ...and yet, S. Africa has swiftly falling new cases and deaths, and has been hit 1/3 as bad as the US and many European countries. They're fine compared to the US. And so is India. Why bring up countries doing incredibly well? What about Hungary?
      Nations naturally do mostly within-borders things. Makes sense to me. Silly to think we can fix the rest of the world - and, even more, that it's our responsibility. We haven't come close to fixing us.

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  24. Not a big fan of Krugman, but I think his take is correct: "Indeed, you might expect finance professors, some of whom do lucrative consulting for Wall Street, to be pretty conservative. But even they are repelled by a party committed to zombie economics." nytimesDOTcom/2021/06/28/opinion/tucker-carlson-general-milley-republicans.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

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    1. I would say it's more like finance professors that are insecure in their own abilities / contributions flock to the Democratic party for affirmation and career advancement.

      If you are good at what you do, it shouldn't matter what (if any) your party affiliation is.

      Do you check the political leanings of the doctor, accountant, lawyer, contractor that you hire / consult?

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    2. The Republican party has little to say about accounting, most laws, building codes and such. They have a alot to say about economics - wrong understandings - of how the monetary/fiscal system works. Only real policy is tax cuts for the rich and deregulation. Also alot to say about the irrelevance of democratic institutions. It matters.

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    3. You just made my point about insecure Democrats.

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    4. Yes, FRestly, I do check the political leanings of the doctor, accountant, lawyer, contractor, towpilot, etc.. And their religious attitudes, which is a more important avenue for knowing your friends better.
      My right-wing friends do categorise me as a "liberal".
      --E5

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    5. Yes, FRestly, I do check the political leanings of the doctor, accountant, lawyer, contractor, towpilot, etc.. And their religious attitudes, which is a more important avenue for knowing your friends better.
      My right-wing friends do categorise me as a "liberal".
      --E5

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    6. E5,

      Please read the entire sentence:

      "Do you check the political leanings of the doctor, accountant, lawyer, contractor THAT YOU HIRE / CONSULT?"

      Meaning, does political affiliation affect your decision whether to hire / consult with someone?

      Of course after establishing a relationship with someone, politics or religion may be discussed and you may learn that your doctor is a Republican and your dentist is a Democrat - but that wasn't the question.

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