Progressives should brush up on their econ

There’s a study out that suggests that being more liberal correlates with a worse understanding of basic economics.

  • 67% of self-described Progressives believe that restrictions on housing development (i.e., regulations that reduce the supply of housing) do not make housing less affordable.
  • 51% believe that mandatory licensing of professionals (i.e., reducing the supply of professionals) doesn’t increase the cost of professional services.
  • Perhaps most amazing, 79% of self-described Progressive believe that rent control (i.e., price controls) does not lead to housing shortages.

I found this through an Andrew Sullivan post, which links to a Marginal Revolution post, which points out that the survey seems weighted towards the kinds of misunderstandings that liberals are prone to, while leaving out ones that conservatives would be prone to.

Still, I think it’s interesting — and maybe because it illustrates how ideology affects a person’s factual knowledge, regardless of the ideology. This is a feature of the recent debates about right-wing “epistemic closure”, and I would like to see more discussion about these blind spots, as well as thoughts on how to minimize them.

There are all sorts of areas of disagreement between the right and left where there’s really no chance for agreement — often because the issues are so complex that reasonable arguments could be made for any number of positions. But then there are certain well-understood facts that we should all agree on. And those are the casualties of epistemic closure.

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