Nav: Home

New dataset reveals trends in social scientists' congressional testimony

March 25, 2020

From 1946 to 2016, testimony from economists accounted for more than two thirds of all instances of U.S. congressional testimony delivered by social scientists. Thomas Maher of Purdue University, Indiana, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 25, 2020.

The U.S. Congress regularly invites stakeholders and experts to speak before lawmakers at congressional hearings as a central component of the legislation process. Social scientists are among those who may be invited to testify (testimonies by social scientists represent about 2% of all congressional testimonies from 1946-2016). However, the impact of their testimony is difficult to ascertain, in large part due to a lack of quantitative data on their appearances before Congress.

To address this data gap, Maher and colleagues analyzed the congressional record and compiled a new, publicly available dataset on testimony from social scientists between 1946 and 2016. They categorized social scientists into five major disciplines: economists, political scientists, sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists.

The new dataset revealed 15,506 instances of testimony from social scientists, 10,834 of which were from economists. Testimony from economists occurred more than four times as often as testimony from political scientists, and more than 10 times as often as testimony from sociologists. Anthropologists had the lowest rate of testimony.

The researchers also examined the organizations represented by social scientists who delivered congressional testimony. Over the study period, they found an increase in the proportion of testimony from social scientists--especially political scientists--who represent think tanks, as opposed to academic institutions or other governmental or non-governmental organizations. Additionally, economists are most present at congressional hearings, while anthropologists and sociologists have a declining presence.

The new dataset could help inform research into the impact of social scientists' testimony on legislation, and why their testimony is increasingly associated with think tanks.

The authors add: Economists are invited to testify before Congress significantly more often than any other social scientist, and their dominance has held even as the sources of expertise have diversified with the growth of think tanks and industry positions.
-end-
Citation: Maher TV, Seguin C, Zhang Y, Davis AP (2020) Social scientists' testimony before Congress in the United States between 1946-2016, trends from a new dataset. PLoS ONE 15(3): e0230104. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230104

Funding: CS University of Arizona CS TM National Science Foundation #1824092 https://www.nsf.gov/ Publication of this article was funded in part by Purdue University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE:http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230104

PLOS

Related Economists Articles:

Economists: Lack of COVID-19 preparedness in line with previous findings
The threat of a catastrophic pandemic in 2014 -- the West African Ebola outbreak -- did little to change the perception of US citizens regarding the importance of preparing for future outbreaks,
Memory misfires help selfish maintain their self-image
When asked to recall how generous they were in the past, selfish people tend to remember being more benevolent than they actually were, according to a series of experiments by Yale psychologists and economists at University of Zurich published April 29, 2020 in the journal Nature Communications.
Mentoring programs help female economists secure tenure-track positions
Research from Princeton University shows that an annual AEA workshop for female economists was effective in retaining women in academia and helping them to achieve tenure in the top 30 to 50 ranked schools in the country.
Economists find carbon footprint grows with parenthood
Two-adult households with children emit over 25% more carbon dioxide than two-adult households without children, according to researchers with the University of Wyoming and Sweden's Lund University School of Economics and Management.
US coronavirus measures are justified, University of Wyoming economists find
The potential benefits of social distancing in saving lives far outweigh the projected damage to the economy, according to the economists from the Department of Economics in the University of Wyoming College of Business.
New dataset reveals trends in social scientists' congressional testimony
From 1946 to 2016, testimony from economists accounted for more than two thirds of all instances of US congressional testimony delivered by social scientists.
Measuring the world of social phenomena
Economists working with Professor Marko Sarstedt from University of Magdeburg are demanding that the same scientific standards be applied to economics and the behavioral sciences in general as are used in the natural sciences.
Spread-changing orders and deletions affect stock prices
In a new study published in EPJ B, Stephan Grimm and Thomas Guhr from Duisburg-Essen University in Germany compare the influences that three price-changing events have on these spread changes.
Study: Minimum wage 'an effective tool' for increasing incomes of older workers
In an era of rising inequality and aging populations in the US, the effect of the minimum wage on the labor market for older workers is increasingly important, says new research from Mark Borgschulte, a professor of economics at Illinois.
Economists find net benefit in soda tax
A team of economists has concluded that soda taxes serve as a 'net good,' an assessment based on an analysis of health benefits and consumer behavior.
More Economists News and Economists Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.