M.V. Lee Badgett, economics professor and director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, weighs in on the debate about same-sex marriage in an online debate on the issue in The Economist magazine. Badgett says, based on her research, that same-sex couples share the basic human right to marry. She concludes, “Overall, the evidence suggests that letting same-sex couples marry would be a good thing for all concerned, straight or gay. Expanding access to the institution creates these gains; no change in the rules and expectations for married couples is required or sought. Gay couples’ interest in marriage is a vote in favour of the continuing relevance of marriage in today’s world, a change that should strengthen, not weaken, the institution.” (The Economist, 1/6/11)
When the annual meeting of the American Economic Association, the world’s largest professional society for economists, convened Jan. 6 in Denver, the first day included a debate on the role of ethics in the profession. The move is in response to criticism of many economists who comment in the media or give professional testimony about economic issues without disclosing their personal and financial ties to the industries they are discussing. Epstein and graduate student Jessica Carrick-Hagenbarth recently published a paper that found many of the financial economists who weighed in on new federal regulation of Wall Street didn’t disclose their potential conflicts of interest. (The Economist, 1/6/11)
As Gerald Epstein, economics professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, and Jessica Carrick-Hagenbarth, economics PhD student, recently showed in their paper, “Financial Economists, Financial Interests and Dark Corners of the Meltdown: It’s Time to Set Ethical Standards for the Economics Profession,” the economics profession has no official standards or ethical code to regulate potential conflicts of interest between economists’ roles as experts and their frequent roles as consultants and agents of private firms. Epstein and Carrick-Hagenbarth have spearheaded an effort to remedy this issue with a letter to the the American Economic Association, which has garnered the support of close to 300 economists, and drawn the attention of the national media.