Expertise in the Political Process — Benefits, Limits and Risks
Since the outbreak of the financial and economic crisis, confidence in politicians as well as the economists in their advisory expert panels seems to be at an all-time low. Why do politicians reject science-based advice unless it fits into their political agenda? Are economists misunderstood by politicians and vice versa? The tension between the ideal of evidence-based policy-making and the reality of policy-based evidence-making is hardly a new phenomenon. Therefore, the expectation that Donald Trump, the Brexiteers and European populists will necessarily disappoint their voters because they simply cannot deliver what they have promised is misleading. Experts would be well advised to use the debate on the post-factual era as an impetus to reflect critically on their profession. One opinion expressed in this Zeitgespräch is that the contested societal and political impact of modern economics is due to its restricted scientific self-concept. A more open, pluralistic and transdisciplinary self-definition of economics would strengthen its societal influence. Another contributor ponders the proper incentives to persuade academic economists to provide economic policy advice. Key is the independence of advisory institutions like the German Council of Economic Experts. The selection of people with the best scientific qualifications will ensure the reputation of such institutions.