I believe that Hedengren, Klein, and Milton, provide evidence supporting Sowell’s hypothesis in, Economist Petitions": Ideology Revealed, published in the Econ Journal Watch. They examined 35 petitions signed by economists between 1994 and 2009. Based on their analysis, they classified fifteen petitions as liberty augmenting, thirteen as liberty reducing, and seven as other. They conclude
The most notable finding of this investigation is that virtually every single economist who is active in signing petitions leans heavily in one direction or the other. The pictures tell the story better than words can, but here are some facts put into words:All five of the signatures on freedom reducing petitions by the 63 economists who signed at least eight freedom augmenting petitions were on a petition supporting cap-and-trade legislation. The 102 economists who signed at least four freedom reducing petitions signed only sixteen freedom augmenting petitions. Six of the signatures were added to a petition that opposed marijuana prohibition, four that supported increased immigration, three that opposed protectionism, two that opposed green protectionism, and one that supported prediction markets.
• The 63 economists who signed at least eight liberal petitions lent a grand total of 564 signatures to liberal petitions, but their signatures on interventionist petitions amounted to just five!
• The 102 economists who signed at least four interventionist petitions lent a grand total of 461 signatures to interventionist petitions, but their signatures on liberal petitions amounted to just sixteen!
• There were 589 economists who signed at least three liberal petitions, but only one also signed at least three interventionist petitions (and that individual, Malcolm Robinson, signed only three of each kind). Meanwhile, there were 230 economists who signed at least three interventionist petitions.
• In fact, among the 589 who signed at least three liberal petitions, there were, besides the aforementioned Malcolm Robinson, only two individuals who also signed at least two interventionist petitions, Carl F. Christ and Peter Crampton. But these two each leaned heavily in the liberal direction, signing five liberal and just two interventionist petitions. It is fair to say that Malcolm Robinson is the only exception to the finding that economists who are active in signing petitions lean heavily one way or the other.
• Twenty-five Nobel-prize economists were among the set of signatories. Five of them signed at least three liberal petitions—Vernon Smith, Milton Friedman, Edward Prescott, Thomas Schelling, and Robert E. Lucas Jr.—and among those five economists there was not a single interventionist signature.
• Six other Nobel economists signed at least two interventionist petitions—Kenneth Arrow, Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Solow, George Akerlof, Lawrence Klein, and Daniel McFadden—and among those six economists there were just three liberal signatures.
Our investigation shows just how fundamental ideas about liberty and government intervention really are in the thinking of economists—or at least those who like to sign petitions.